Coach, lifelong football fan, game-changer
The NFL is one of the biggest stages in the world for athletes and coaches. And it was on that stage that this generation’s next big game-changer emerged: Katie Sowers, a woman of many inspiring firsts. As an Offensive Assistant Coach for the San Francisco 49ers, she made history on February 2nd as the first woman ever to coach in the Super Bowl.
Her story is inspiring for the next generation of girls, women, and anyone who desires to lead. But unlike Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King, and other game-changing leaders in sports, not all people know the Katie Sowers story. Yet.
I’m not trying to be the best female coach. I’m trying to be the best coach.Katie Sowers, Offensive Assistant Coach, San Francisco 49ers
When it comes to the mindset she brings to the field every day, Katie says it’s less about who she is and more about what she’s capable of achieving. “I’m not here to be the token female. I’m here to help us win and create the best team possible.”
It’s that kind of dedication and passion for the game she recalls having even as a young child. “I remember loving football from day one. I would walk home every day, and all I’d want to do is play football.” Any time she wrote in her journal, it was about football. In one entry, she says, “When I grow up, I want to be on a real football team.” Though at that time, it was still just a dream she never dared assume could be a reality. “It never crossed my mind that I could play, because I just didn’t think girls could.” That was until she began playing for the West Michigan Mayhem in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
From there, her career kicked into high gear. She began playing for the indomitable US Women’s football team—a team that would go on to win the 2013 IFAF (International Federation of American Football) Women’s World Championship, holding most of their opponents to a score of zero. Then after a position as a scout intern with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016, Katie went on to become the second woman in history to hold a coaching position in the NFL. And she is the first female coach on the San Francisco 49ers.
Being a female is just one of my differences. Every single coach on our staff is different. Not one has the same personality or background.Katie Sowers
Currently in her fourth year with the team, Katie considers her gender only part of her story. And for Katie, who is also the first openly LGBT coach in the league, what makes her different is one of her biggest assets as a coach. “You need the ability to relate to people, to know what drives them and know what moves them. Coaching is about getting people to move in the same direction.” And when it comes to getting people to move in that direction, Katie uses all the tools available to her, from her personal experience on the field to technology.
Now, even as Katie is about to make a historic achievement for equality in Super Bowl LIV, she still has set her sights on making history yet again. “I would love to be a head coach. That’s my goal.” The only question that remains, is society ready to move forward? “I’ve been told people aren’t ready for it. And I do think society has a lot of change that needs to be made in terms of the way we see women. But all it takes is one, and then they open the door for so many others.” And that’s a story that can move us all forward.