The San Francisco 49ers might have lost this year, but it’s a win for their coach, Katie Sowers, who became the first female and openly gay coach in Super Bowl history.
Katie Sowers is used to trailblazing.
She was, for starters, the first ever openly gay NFL coach and only the second woman in the NFL to be appointed to a full-time coaching position.
Now the San Francisco 49ers assistant coach has become the first woman and first openly gay coach in Super Bowl history.
Unsurprisingly as a gay woman in a male-dominated industry, smashing that Super Bowl ceiling hasn’t necessarily been easy – which, of course, just makes her victory all the sweeter.
To celebrate her personal win and that of women everywhere, we are looking back at some of her most inspiring quotes.
On owning your achievements:
“Women often shrink when they’re bragged about. Be proud of what you’ve done, and when someone brags about you, acknowledge the credit you’ve been given. Don’t push the credit away” – she tells Inc.com in 2019.
On women in leadership roles:
“We find it so odd when women lead men, but women have been teaching men for years. We have to normalize it” – she tells MarketWatch in 2019.
On being the ‘token female’:
“I’m not here to just be the token female. I’m here to help us win” – she says in an advertisement for Microsoft, 2020.
On her ultimate goal:
“I would love to see myself as a head coach some day. I know some people might think it’s crazy but, back in the day, if you would have said that women were going to play with the same rules as men do, they would have thought that was crazy. Being a head coach to me is being a teacher and I think we would never question whether men would listen to a woman as a professor” – she tells 1st Look TV, 2019.
On women coaching men’s sport:
“One day a woman will be hired as a coach of a men’s professional team and it will not be a headline” – she tells Yahoo Sport, 2019.
On why you should always give your best:
“I always preach that you never know who is watching, so I put everything into the team” – she tells MarketWatch in 2019.
Sowers was working as the athletic director of the city of Kansas City and coaching a fifth grade girls basketball team in 2014 when she caught the eye of Scott Pioli – a former general manager of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs – who was watching his daughter in the team. The rest, as they say, is history.
On what to tell your daughter:
“If your daughter has a dream of being a football coach in the NFL… or a ballerina… or a professional soccer player.. Or a teacher.. Or a nurse.. Or a doctor.. Or an astronaut.. Or even PRESIDENT.. Just let her know this… She. Can. Do. It. And she will change the world” – she writes on Twitter in 2020.
On overcoming obstacles:
“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 tells People in 2019.
Here, Sowers refers to being rejected from a volunteer, unpaid coaching position when she was an undergrad because of her “lifestyle”. She used that experience to propel her forward.
On being true to yourself:
“No matter what you do in life, one of the most important things is to be true to who you are. 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” – she tells OutSports in 2020.