This past Super Bowl Sunday, offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers was the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl when the Niners faced off with the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV on February 2nd. Sowers is looking at this as an opportunity to have more female coaching in the NFL. Sowers is also the very first out LGBTQ coach in the NFL.
“Being the first female in the Super Bowl, it’s surreal,” Sowers said. “It really is. But what I want to continue to say is that even though I’m the first, the most important thing is I’m not the last and we continue to grow it.” Sowers, 33, is in her fourth NFL season – and her third with the 49ers, including two in her current role. Before Sowers became famous as a football coach, she wanted to coach the women’s basketball team at Goshen College, a private religious school in Indiana. Her offer was declined because she is gay.
As she said, “As I was finishing college, I actually got turned down from a volunteer coaching job (basketball) because I was a lesbian. I was told ‘because of your lifestyle, we ask that you do not come around the team.'” It was then that Sowers truly felt judged because of her sexual orientation: “I was so passionate about coaching and to feel like my opportunities were limited because of who I loved was hard to deal with. However, without that experience, I would not be where I am today.”
Sowers is a self-described players-driven coach who uses the words “I believe in you,” per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, and has clearly made an impact on the 49ers players. “She’s one of the coolest coaches I’ve ever had,” wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “I like being around her. Just how she goes about her business and how positive she is.”
San Francisco’s success this season helped shine a spotlight on Sowers, and the increased recognition from young female fans has been a driving force for her. Sowers hopes to inspire many more young girls who want to have involvement in football. She most recently gave her advice to the young female fans out there in a tweet from USA TODAY Sports:
Sowers’ words of encouragement are crucial to aspiring young girls who may be too intimidated to get involved in what some people say is a “men’s sport”. After the postseason began, Sowers’ profile increased with her appearance in a commercial for the Microsoft Surface tablet in which she shares a letter she wrote to herself as a child saying she hoped to someday be on a real football team. She now receives many notes and letters that she responds to from young girls all over the country. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, lesbian, straight; it all doesn’t matter. What matters most is believing that you can do whatever you want no matter who you are, and Sowers has done an extraordinary job of being the role model young girls need.