Katie Sowers: The First Openly Gay Female to Coach at the Super Bowl

Katie Sowers has made history as the first female to coach at the Super Bowl. Sowers has loved football her whole life but didn’t realize her dreams of coaching could be reality until seeing Becky Hammon coach in the NBA. She tells Market Watch “I had this weird feeling then, knowing it was going to happen. I even posted on Instagram: ‘NFL, I’m coming for you.’ It’s hard to explain, but I was positive I was going to make it happen.”

footballs on wall

In 2019 she was hired as the assistant offensive coach for the San Francisco 49ers. Before she was hired, she was coaching a 5th grade girls basketball team in Kansas city. She put a lot of effort into coaching the girls and it caught the attention of a team member's dad-who just so happened to be Mike Piloi, the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. He saw potential in Sowers and recommended her to the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, a program intended to increase the number of minority coaches in the NFL. After 10 months in the fellowship, Sowers was offered an internship with the NFL. She hesitated due to the low pay but her friend Pioli helped her again by paying her rent. From there, she continued to seize every opportunity that came her way.

Sowers is not only paving the way for young women but also for the LGBTQ community as she is the first openly gay person to coach not just in the NBA—but in any male professional sport. She explains in an interview with Outsports that she may be the only out member of the LGBTQ community in the NFL but that there are many others who identify as LGBTQ nonpublically. According to Sowers, “[T]he 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.”

girl holding pride flag with blue sky

Despite the huge victory she claimed for the LGBTQ community, Sowers is no stranger to the sting of homophobia. She attended Goshen with a scholarship for basketball and when she was no longer eligible to play she asked to stay on as a volunteer coach. Not long after, Sowers was told that it was “nothing personal” but that parents on the team were concerned about a gay person being around their daughters. This was a hard pill to swallow for Sowers but she believes that it led her to “a second chance at the game I originally loved the most.''

The future is bright for Sowers but also for the groups she represents. She is an inspiration for little girls who prefer helmets and shoulder pads to pom poms and  proof that homophobia can’t hold the LGBTQ community down.