The Super Bowl is coming up, and Americans are starting to get excited. We’re planning parties, organizing snacks, and getting geared up for the commercials, the halftime show, and, of course, the game. This year, LGBTQ+ folks might have a little extra incentive to watch the big game.
On the sidelines of this year’s Super Bowl will be Katie Sowers, the NFL’s first openly gay coach. Read on to learn more about who Katie is and how she’s changing the game of American football.
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Who Is Katie Sowers?
Katie Sowers is one of the coaches for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. She is the first woman and openly gay person to be coaching during a Super Bowl, which the 49ers will play in. Sowers has already set history in the NFL by being the first openly gay coach.
Sowers is an offensive assistant coach and works alongside coaches like John Benton. She helps to organize and strategize plays to make sure the offensive line operates effectively. She is the second full-time assistant female coach in NFL history, with the first being Jen Walter of the Arizona Cardinals.
Her Sports Background
Katie Sowers earned her position with the 49ers through a long, impressive career in athletics. In 2013, she was a member of the United States Women’s National Football team. That team beat Canada 64-0 in the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship, claiming their second world title.
Sowers also played in the Women’s Football Alliance for eight years. She worked with the Atlanta Falcons before moving to San Francisco, and before that, she served as the athletic director of the City of Kansas City. Sowers earned her degree in kinesiology from the University of Central Missouri in 2012.
Sowers was hired on by the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. At the time, she said, “The more we can create an environment that welcomes all types of people, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, the more we can help ease the pain and burden that many carry every day.” She was hired as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Fellowship and focused on wide receiver training.
Sowers has headed off any claims that she was hired for the sake of diversity. “I’m not just here to be the token female, I’m here to help us win,” she says. And so far, her words are proving true, since the 49ers are in the Super Bowl for the first time since 2012.
What Her Players Say
Sowers has earned the affection and respect of her team, who recognize the expertise she brings to the game. Marquise Goodwin, who is a former Olympian and who now plays wide receiver for the 49ers says Sowers understands the game and is “a baller.”
“She played in a women’s league, and it may be a little different, but she definitely has the attitude it takes to be in that room. She brings a great vibe, and she understands, so I’m happy that she’s on staff.”
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo also called her tremendous, saying, “Katie was here before I was, but just what she does with the receivers, all the skill positions guys, how she interacts with them. It’s special.”
Katie Sowers’ Coming Out
Katie Sowers came out publicly in an interview with Outsports in 2017. She came out after her hiring, saying, “No matter what you do in life, one of the most important things is to be true to who you are.” In addition to being the first out coach in the NFL, she was also the first openly gay coach in any male pro team sports leagues, including the MLB and NBA, which do have female coaches of their own.
“There are so many people who identify as LGBT in the NFL, as in any business, that do not feel comfortable being public about their sexual orientation,” Sowers said. She has worked to make the NFL a space where anyone can feel comfortable being who they are.
You only have to look to her Instagram page to see that; in addition to photos of Sowers working out and working with the team, you can find pictures of her with her girlfriend, Cara.
How She’s Changing the Game
Sowers’s presence in the NFL is helping to change the face of modern American football. Traditionally, football has been a league filled with tough guys who aren’t allowed to show pain, weakness or hint of sexual fluidity.
Thus far, there has not been a NFL athlete who publicly identified as gay or bisexual while playing in the league, and there are only 13 out gay and bi players in the NFL’s 100-year history who have publicly come out with these identities afterward.
Having a gay woman prominent in the leadership of a Super Bowl team suggests that American football may be showing hints of change.
The 49ers in the Super Bowl
This year on February 2, the San Francisco 49ers will face up against the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami. Both teams have a lot to prove in the big game.
This is the first time in fifty years that the Chiefs have made it into the Super Bowl, and they’re looking to take their first championship since 1969.
The 49ers were last in the Super Bowl in 2012, but it has been more than twenty-five years since they won a championship. Either way, Katie Sowers has “skin in the game” since her current team and her former city will face off in America’s biggest sporting event of the year.
Learn More About Katie Sowers
Katie Sowers is changing the face of American football with her presence as an offensive assistant coach. When her team faces off against the Kansas City Chiefs next month in the Super Bowl, she’ll be making an impact. When you tune into the big game, keep an eye on the sidelines for the woman who is changing the course of NFL history.
If you’d like to read about other LGBTQ+ icons and the way they’re changing history, explore the blog.