After being hired by the San Francisco 49ers as the team’s newest assistant coach this month, Katie Sowers became only the second female coach in NFL history. She also became the first openly gay coach in NFL history.
The 31-year-old was taken on to help coach wide receivers after a successful internship in Bill Walsh’s NFL Diversity Fellowship program, according to NFL.com.
Sowers recently spoke about her sexuality saying that she hopes to be at the forefront of normalizing homosexuality.
“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,” Sowers told gay advocacy site Outsports.com. “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.”
Sowers is only the second full-time female NFL coach after Kathryn Smith who served as the Buffalo Bills special teams quality control coach in 2016.
The newly minted coach first worked in the NFL as an intern with the Atlanta Falcons last year. That stint in Atlanta led to her landing the job in Frisco.
“Katie did a real good job for us in Atlanta, she’s done a really good job here,” current 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said recently. “She helps [receivers coach] Mike LaFleur out, just with some rotations and she helps our quality control [coaches] out just with all the stuff they have to do. She’s a hard worker, you don’t even notice her because she just goes to work and does what’s asked. Because of that, she’s someone we’d like to keep around.”
Sowers’ homosexuality has always gotten a lot of attention. The Kansas-born coach confided that she was even denied a position because of her sexuality.
“As I was finishing college, I actually got turned down from a volunteer coaching job (basketball) because I was a lesbian,” Sowers said. “I was told ‘because of your lifestyle, we ask that you do not come around the team.'”
Sowers said that it was the fans seeking her autograph that proved to her that she is making an impact. “I had multiple families call me over and thank me for the doors I am opening for their daughter,” she said.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.