First woman, openly gay NFL coach torn over which of her former teams to root for in Super Bowl

First woman, openly gay NFL coach torn over which of her former teams to root for in Super Bowl

Katie Sowers was a member of Kyle Shanahan’s coaching staff the last time the San Francisco 49ers were in the Super Bowl. That was back in 2020, when the Niners took on the Kansas City Chiefs, whom Sowers would join as an offensive assistant the following season.

Players from those squads whom Sowers coached — Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Nick Bosa — will be playing in the rematch.

Oh, and Sowers is also a native of Kansas City.

So where does her allegiance lie for Super Bowl LVIII?

“I want the Chiefs to win, and I want the Niners to win,” Sowers told Deadspin. “As crazy as that sounds. Honestly, I am torn. I don’t really think I’ll know who I am cheering for until the game begins. Honestly.

“Living in Kansas City, I’ve seen the amazing things that a winning team does,” she said. “But take me back four years ago, that pain of losing to the Chiefs, who I thought was the enemy at that time, it’s really a strange feeling to see this matchup again and almost be brought back to some of those feelings that you had.”

That Super Bowl was also a historic moment for Sowers as she became the first openly gay and first female coach in the history of the Big Game.

Sowers on the sidelines during Super Bowl LIV
Photo: Getty Images

“At times, it felt like a movie,” Sowers told Deadspin. “It wasn’t only a dream to be there because we were playing a team so close to my heart in the Kansas City Chiefs, but it really was a dream come true. Being in that atmosphere in Miami and walking out of the tunnel hearing a lot of fans screaming for me, a low-level coach, to feel that type of support was unreal.”

Sowers’ love for football dates back to playing in her neighborhood with other kids and her twin sister, Liz. As they were growing up, every year for Christmas they would ask for footballs, pads, and other gear so they could play and hit each other.

She was able to play professionally with the West Michigan Mayhem and Kansas City Titans in the Women’s Football Alliance. Sowers was also a member of the U.S. women’s national American football team that won the 2013 International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship.

She retired in 2016 after suffering a hip injury.

“I ended up back in Kansas City,” Sowers said. “I wanted to keep coaching, so I ended up coaching fifth-grade basketball, and Scott Pioli’s daughter was on the team.”

Pioli was the GM of the Kansas City Chiefs before assuming the same role with the Atlanta Falcons. He had gotten to know S0wers and her love for football, and brought her to Atlanta as an intern.

“I saw Becky Hammon coaching in the NBA,” Sowers recalled. “That was the moment it hit me. How could I have not thought about this idea of coaching football?”

With the Falcons, she got to meet Shanahan, who brought her over to San Francisco.

“When I first got to the 49ers we were not a great team,” Sowers told Deadspin. “I remember going 0-9 and I remember after that a really horrible season.”

That “horrible season” was when Jimmy Garapolo tore his ACL and San Francisco finished the season 4-12. Still, Sowers stayed committed to Shanahan and the team, and they were rewarded a year later with a Super Bowl appearance.

Now, Sowers and her sister coach together at Ottawa University in Kansas. Her team recently won their third straight NAIA Championship. Sowers says that some people are disappointed she didn’t continue her NFL journey, but she feels that her current role is helping football grow more than ever before.

“I am now in a position where I am coaching some of the best athletes I have ever coached,” Sowers told Deadspin. “They happen to be women, they happen to be throwing the same football and they do it at an extremely high level. These are elite athletes that, in my opinion, have done more for the game of football than these superstars because they are trailblazers. They are opening opportunities for women that have never had a chance. It was a huge transition at first but I have fallen in love with the game all over again.”

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.