The San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, so they’re officially heading to the Super Bowl to face off against the Kansas City Chiefs. That means the 49ers’ assistant coach, Katie Sowers, will officially become the first woman and the first openly gay coach to go to the Super Bowl.
Sowers posted about her excitement on Instagram after the win. “Takin our talents to south beach,” she wrote alongside a video of the team’s celebrations on the field.
The 33-year-old coach has been passionate about football from a young age. “It’s always just been kind of a natural love,” she told People. “Every time I got a chance to write any journal entry in school, it was always about football. I was constantly talking about it.”
Sowers is only the second woman to become a full-time coach in the NFL, and her journey wasn’t without challenges. As an undergraduate at a religious college in Indiana, she was turned down for a volunteer coaching position because of her lesbian “lifestyle,” she says. “I remember holding back tears and calling my mom right away.”
But that setback didn’t stop Sowers from pursuing her dream. “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 explained.
In 2016, Sowers joined the Atlanta Falcons as a training camp assistant. Then the 49ers hired her on as an intern in 2017. She was promoted to assistant coach in 2019.
“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,” Sowers said. “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.”
Super Bowl LIV will take place in Miami on Sunday, February 2.