Although the 33-year-old is only the second woman to hold a full-time coaching position in the NFL, she is determined not to let that define her career.
The 54th Annual Super Bowl set to happen in Miami next month will a historic event in more than just one way. With the San Francisco 49ers defeating the Green Bay Packers 37-20 on Sunday night, the team secured a spot in the highly-anticipated upcoming football championship where their assistant coach Katie Sowers will be the first woman, openly-LGBTQ coach in Super Bowl history. When the team goes up against the Kansas City Chiefs on February 2, Sowers will be part of the tactical arsenal attempting to bag the first title for the 49ers since 1994.
Sowers celebrated the California team's recent win on social media on Sunday, posting a video from the post-game field celebrations with the caption, "Takin our talents to south beach." According to PEOPLE, although the 33-year-old is only the second woman to hold a full-time coaching position in the NFL, she is determined not to let that be what defines her career. "When you ask any of the coaches who work with me, often they’ll get asked about working with a woman. 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," she said.
Holding a page from her journal she wrote as a young girl, Sowers spoke about her passion for the sport in a recent TV ad campaign for Microsoft's Surface computer. "I hope someday I will be a good football player. I am good at football. When we play football at home, I can make a touchdown in one catch. I am the leader of our football club. I still want to be better," a young Sowers' words read. "I'm not just here to be the token female, I'm here to help us win... I would want to tell this little girl to keep pushing herself. Your dream is coming," the now-NFL coach says in the video.
Sowers grew up in Hesston, Kansas, playing football with her twin sister, Liz, in their grandmother’s backyard. "It’s always just been kind of a natural love. Every time I got a chance to write any journal entry in school, it was always about football. I was constantly talking about it," she revealed. Sowers' undergrad years at Goshen College in Indiana—an institution religiously affiliated with the Mennonite Church—were incredibly tough as she constantly faced discrimination for her sexuality. "I was turned down for a volunteer, unpaid coaching position at my former college because of my lifestyle. I remember holding back tears and calling my mom right away," she revealed.
She explained that there was little she could do about the discrimination she faced, given the college’s religious affiliation. "That was, in a way, their right to turn me down, to keep me away from the team," she said. However, Sowers refused to let the experience set her back. "Instead of it being an obstacle, it was actually a building block for my future and my next step because I had to look elsewhere," she said. Her NFL career began as a training camp assistant with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016, following which she joined the 49ers as an intern in 2017. Sowers was then promoted to her current role last year.
"When I’m on the field and look around, it all kind of sinks in on how far I’ve come and where I am. I see young girls out there almost every game, and someone’s mom or dad is yelling to me, saying, 'my daughter wants to play football,' or, 'my daughter is going to be a coach.' And those are the moments where it’s worth it," Sowers stated.