Katie Sowers hit two birds with one stone at Super Bowl LIV by making history as the first female and the first out member of the LGBTQ community to coach the annual sporting event. Sowers was also the third woman and first out LGBTQ person to have a full-time coaching position in the NFL. Currently, there are eight full-time female coaches in the league.
"No matter what you do in life, one of the most important things is to be true to who you are," she told Outsports during a coming-out interview in 2017. "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."
Before becoming the offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, Sowers was once denied a volunteer position as basketball coach for the women's team at Goshen, a private liberal arts college near Indianapolis, because she was gay. However, that rejection ended up carving a whole new path for Sowers, who would go on to land a job with the Atlanta Falcons.
"That experience actually led me to football," she told USA Today in January about being rejected from Goshen. "And [it] led me to a second chance at the game that I originally loved the most."
Earlier this year, Goshen president Rebecca Stoltzfus issued an apology for denying Sowers the job, stating that, in 2009, "our policies and the laws of Indiana allowed for hiring decisions to consider sexual orientation." In 2015, the college adopted a new nondiscrimination policy.
Sowers has been using her platform to expand LGBTQ visibility on the field. She even persuaded the 49ers to start a Pride fan club, which aims to give a voice to the NFL's many LGBTQ fans.