The Super Bowl is always a momentous day—whether you’re just there to catch these Super Bowl 2020 commercials or fully dedicated to posting up at your local sports bar. But this year’s Super Bowl is a little more historic than others, thanks to one person: Katie Sowers, the very first woman and openly gay person to ever coach the event.
The 33-year-old San Francisco 49ers assistant coach is taking Super Bowl LIV by storm. After her team swept the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship, Sowers knew the moment was “Unreal,” not only for the win but for what it means for her, too.
She’s just the second woman to hold a full-time coaching position in the NFL altogether, but no woman before her has taken their team to the Super Bowl. Add this to the fact that Sowers is the first openly LGBTQ+ coach—man, woman, or otherwise—to make it to the big night, and her success appears doubly historic.
Yet Sowers isn’t crazy interested in tooting her own horn as far as these historic markers go. Honestly, she’s most interested in doing her job—and doing it damn well. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate her achievements before football’s biggest event of the year.
Read on below for five things to know about Katie Sowers (a.k.a our latest obsession!)
She’s always dreamed of this.
Katie Sowers grew up in a small town, but like plenty of small-town girls, she never stopped having big dreams. “It’s always just been kind of a natural love,” Sowers told People recently. “Every time I got a chance to write any journal entry in school, it was always about football. I was constantly talking about it.”
The older she got, the more she realized her specific calling in the sport: coaching. “I always knew I wanted to be a coach but it wasn’t until I found football later in life when I realized that although the road was way less traveled, I wanted to coach football,” she said to Outsports two years ago. “When I say untraditional, I mean that society is so conditioned to this idea that football is a ‘man’s game’ and anything other than that is far from traditional.” But who says traditional ever gets the job done?
She’s played professional football in the past.
Of course, in order to be a coach, you’ve got to know how to play the game. Sowers has played football on a professional level herself, starring as a quarterback for a Women’s Football Alliance team, the Kansas City Titans. Then in 2013, Sowers became a member of the USA Women’s National Football Team—helping her teammates to bring home the gold. She only retired from playing in 2016, due to a hip injury; yet that setback propelled her into the biggest move of her career yet.
She started her NFL career in 2016, and came out publically.
By the summer of 2016, Sowers moved on from the WFA to the NFL. She started as an intern with the Atlanta Falcons before joining the San Francisco 49ers—her current team—in June 2017. Around the same time, the newly-minted NFL assistant coach openly expressed her sexuality.
“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 told Outsports. “The more we can create an environment that welcomes all types of people, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, the more we can help ease the pain and burden that many carry every day.”
Thankfully, the NFL held true to that welcoming environment, and Sowers stayed on the 49ers’ season offensive assistant until she was promoted to offensive assistant last year in 2019.
She doesn’t let her sexuality or gender define her work.
While Sowers is vocal about her sexuality and remains an advocate for women and LGBTQ+ people hoping to join the NFL, she doesn’t think her identity is the most important thing about herself. Instead, Sowers puts work first.
“When you ask any of the coaches who work with me, often they’ll get asked about working with a female,” Sowers told People in Nov. 2019. “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.” Sowers is trying to be the best coach—female or otherwise—period.
But it does define her relationships—she’s taken, folks!
We hate to break it to you, but it’s true. Sowers has been with her girlfriend, Cara, for some time now. In Sept. 2019, Sowers posted the kindest message from Cara’s grandmother. “If you want to see an example of true unconditional love, please read this letter my girlfriend received from her grandma after she recently came out to her family about dating a woman,” she wrote in her Instagram caption.
I’m not crying, you’re crying!