Katie Sowers, Trailblazing Lesbian NFL Coach, Departs 49ers

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
Katie Sowers on the field ahead of last year’s Super Bowl in Miami.
Kirby Lee/USA Today via Reuters

Katie Sowers, the trailblazing 49ers coach who became the first woman and first out LGBTQ individual to coach a Super Bowl, announced she is not returning to the team next season after her contract expired.

“Dear faithful, We have been through so much together over the last four years and words will never express how much your love and acceptance meant to me,” Sowers wrote in an Instagram post on January 8. “I will forever cherish the memories and hearing your stories throughout the years. Together, we made a difference in this world. You were there every step of the way… from my first day at Levi’s, to the Super Bowl, and even when my Dad passed away. You all supported me through it all.”

Sowers is the franchise’s first female assistant coach and the NFL’s first out gay coach. She received a significant amount of media attention at early last year due to the historic nature of her rise to the NFL’s biggest stage.

Sower’s rise to the Super Bowl was also significant at a time when anti-LGBTQ forces have engulfed the sports world in an effort to push transgender athletes off the playing field.

With this role behind her, the outlet reports she is seeking new opportunities.

Sowers kicked off her NFL coaching career as an intern with the Atlanta Falcons before she took on a new coaching role with the 49ers that was tied to the Bill Walsh NFL Coaching Diversity Fellowship. She was subsequently elevated to an offensive assistant.

Prior to ascending to the professional stage, Sowers faced adversity early in her coaching career when she was denied a volunteer coaching opportunity at Goshen College simply because of her sexual orientation.

“I was told, ‘Because of your lifestyle, we ask that you do not come around the team,’” she recalled in a 2017 interview with Outsports.com.

The college later apologized for rejecting Sowers.

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