The First Female, Gay Coach Will Be at Super Bowl LIV

Supermajority Education Fund

January 24, 2020

On Sunday, February 2, Katie Sowers, the offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, will be the first woman and first openly LGBTQ person to coach at the Super Bowl.

“Unreal night,” Sowers tweeted after her team’s victory over the Green Bay Packers on January 20. “Takin our talents to South Beach… Niners vs Chiefs… I couldn’t ask for a better game.”

Sowers, 33, had previously coached the Atlanta Falcons for four years before the 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan hired Sowers in 2017. Before that season started, Sowers publicly came out as gay during an interview with Outsports

“No matter what you do in life, one of the most important things is to be true to who you are,” Sowers told Outsports. “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. 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.”

Shannon Minter, the legal director at National Center for Lesbian Rights, told Supermajority News that this moment for sports is huge for women—queer women particularly. 

“As Katie Sower and many other openly LGBTQ coaches and athletes have shown, the freedom to be out shows that what counts on the field, just as in life, is not a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, but their commitment, skills, and ability to bring out the best in others,” Minter said, adding that Sower’s “visible success is a huge inspiration to LGBTQ people and millions more women broadly. It is exhilarating to know that such a tough, effective, and widely-admired coach also happens to be a lesbian.”

Coaching in all sports is still overwhelmingly male-dominated. According to a 2018 SB Nation report, of the roughly 2,600 coaches employed by the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, and MLB, the total number of female coaches is six — less than one percent. The NFL gained its first female coach just five years ago when the Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter as the team’s’ training camp/preseason intern and coached linebackers. 

“There’s a lot of responsibility, sure, but it’s a great opportunity to inspire and help elevate people and elevate the human spirit. I’m honored to show this as a positive story,” Welter told Bleacher Report at the time. 

“Women have had to fight hard to participate as athletes and coaches in the world of professional sports, and lesbian and bisexual women have often had to overcome additional barriers based on homophobia,” Minter said. “Katie is a role model for us all—proving that living a large and authentic life can be not only attainable but celebrated.”