Katie Sowers knows a little bit about making history. After a recent win, the assistant coach is officially taking her team, the San Francisco 49ers, to Super Bowl LIV. But whether they beat the Kansas City Chiefs in February or not, Sowers’s name will be going down in the books as both the first female and the first openly-LGBTQ coach to work the sidelines at the big game.
When her team beat the Green Bay Packers 37-20 on Sunday evening, Sowers shared a confetti-filled video on Instagram of her team celebrating. “Takin our talents to south beach [sic],” she wrote in the caption.
The 33-year-old coach is here to win — while changing history for the better. Here’s what you need to know about her leading up to the Super Bowl on February 2.
Sowers came out publicly in 2017, becoming the first openly gay coach in the NFL.
Sowers isn’t new to notable “firsts.” She was the very first openly gay NFL coach. Ever. She gave an interview with OutSports about this in 2017, in which she said she wanted to encourage other people in the world of sports to be themselves.
“No matter what you do in life, one of the most important things is to be true to who you are,” she told Outsports. “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 is also only the second woman in the NFL to be in a full-time coaching position, and the first to go to the Super Bowl with her team. (The very first was Kathryn Smith, who was hired by the Buffalo Bills in 2016.)
Sowers told People Magazine that isn’t what defines her, though. “When you ask any of the coaches who work with me, often they’ll get asked about working with a female,” Sowers told People. “To them, it’s not even something that they think about — and it’s not something that I truly think about. They see me for who I am as a coach, and not a female coach.”
Refinery29 has reached out to a representative for Sowers for an interview.
Sowers says she’s overcome being discriminated against in the workforce.
In her interview with OutSports, Sowers explained that she’d lost out on a job because of her sexual orientation.
“As I was finishing college, I actually got turned down from a volunteer coaching job because I was a lesbian,” she told OutSports. “That moment really impacted me because it was the first time I truly felt judged because of my 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 has played professional football.
Like many great coaches, Sowers has played football at an elite level herself. ESPN reports that she was a quarterback for the Kansas City Titans, which is in the Women’s Football Alliance. In 2013, Sowers was a member of the USA Women’s National Football Team and helped her teammates earn gold, CBS News reports.
It’s no surprise she took her talents to the field. When she was growing up, the Hesston, Kansas, native wrote a letter about loving the game when she was only 8 years old. “My mom wants me to play basketball. I don’t want to. I want to play football,” she wrote, according to OutSports. “My favorite part of football is tackling.”
Sowers has a twin sister.
Sowers is in a relationship.
Sowers has posted on social media about how her girlfriend and her family are major parts of her support system.
In September 2019, Sowers shared on Twitter that her girlfriend came out to her family about dating a woman for the first time. Sowers accompanied the post with a picture of a heartfelt, hand-written note from her partner’s grandmother.
“If you want to know the meaning of unconditional love, read this letter my girlfriend received from her grandma after she recently came out to her family about dating a woman,” Sowers tweeted. “Just be a good person and BE HAPPY”. That’s all we should ask of our children.”
If you want to know the meaning of unconditional love, read this letter my girlfriend received from her grandma after she recently came out to her family about dating a woman..”just be a good person and BE HAPPY”. That’s all we should ask of our children. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/vK2xTbvcQG— Katie Sowers (@KatieSowers) September 23, 2019
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