A True Trailblazer

The NFL capped off it’s 100th season with the Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs with a historic and memorable 31-20 Kansas City victory. However, what is even more memorable and historic is not any of the players, but an offensive assistant coach for the 49ers.

Katie Sowers was born and raised in Heston, Kansas. Her dad was a coach, and from day one she claims she knew that she wanted to follow in his footsteps. But just not with football. Sowers told Vogue that she did not “see an opportunity in football, because I’d never seen a female coach before.” That being said, according to Vogue, Sowers had a love for the game of football, playing football for Goshen College and then the Western Michigan Mayhem and the Kansas City Titans.  Also, the Baltimore Sun reported that Sowers would have become a basketball coach at Goshen College, as she was a former player and applied for the job in 2009. However, according to the Baltimore Sun, she was turned away from the job because parents were concerned with their children working with a gay coach. Then, according to the Minnesota Star-Tribune, Sowers then started coaching a youth basketball team as a part-time job which happened to have then-Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli as one of the parents. Pioli got fired by Kansas City and became the assistant general manager of the Atlanta Falcons. In 2016, according to the Star-Tribune, Pioli helped Sowers get the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship with the Falcons and Sowers became a scouting intern for the Falcons. According to the Star- Tribune, in 2017 she was hired by the 49ers to work with wide receivers and in 2018 head coach Kyle Shanahan made her offensive assistant. 

Shanahan has been vocal in his praise of Sowers, telling the Star-Tribune, “she just goes to work and does what’s asked” and “she’s someone we’d like to keep around.” The 49ers players have also appreciated the job that Sowers has done, with quarterback Jimmy Garaopolo saying to the Baltimore Sun “she’s been tremendous” adding, “what she does with the receivers, all the skill position guys, how she interacts with them, it’s special.” Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne described in the Baltimore Sun how Sowers “calmed me down when I played my first preseason game. Defensive tackle DJ Jones perhaps put it best when he said in Vogue “she’s empowering to all women.” Sowers has embraced the national attention to advocate for other female coaches, saying to Vogue “the important thing is I’m not the last (female coach) and we continue to grow it.” Sowers is optimistic about the future, as she says to Vogue, “All it takes is one, and it opens the door for so many.” While advocating for more female coaches, Sowers is also trying to erase the stigma of being a female head coach, saying to Vogue, “People tell me that people aren’t ready to have a women lead, but these guys have been learning from women their entire lives: moms, grandmas, teachers. We have all these assumptions about what women do in life, and what men do. I’m not trying to be the best female coach, I’m trying to be the best coach.” 

Sowers has plans to be more than just an NFL coach, however. She wants to be a NFL head coach in the future. Unfortunately, as cornerback Richard Sherman explains in the Baltimore Sun, owners still hire coaches who “look a certain way.” That being said, Sowers has broken barriers before, so she’ll be up to the challenge.

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