Katie Sowers is not only the first female ever on a 49ers coaching staff, she is also the NFL’s first openly LBGT coach, male or female.
“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 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, 31, joined the 49ers this summer as an intern in the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Fellowship program, and she was retained last week on coach Kyle Shanahan’s staff as a full-time offensive assistant, mostly working with wide receivers.
Shanahan, in an interview with the newspaper earlier this month, said of Sowers’ pioneering presence: “It would be an issue if you felt like she was in there and you had to be careful what you said, or, ‘Oh there’s a female in there. Don’t swear.’ Katie hangs out. She’s one of the coaches.”
Sowers grew up in Hesston, Kansas, and, up until last year, she played football both professionally and for the U.S. national team, as a quarterback, wide receiver, linebacker and safety. She broke into the NFL as an Atlanta Falcons intern last summer, when she first met Shanahan, then Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. Sowers is the NFL’s second-ever, full-time female assistant; Kathryn Smith served as the Buffalo Bills special teams quality control coach last year.
Several wide receivers have supported Sowers’ hiring, and she said she couldn’t have asked for more-open minded and accepting teams than those she’s encountered with the 49ers and Falcons, who’ve treated he like any other coach.
“One thing that you need to do in any team sport is adapt to people who might be different than you and respect them as your family,” Sowers said. “Who a coach loves has no impact on the way they coach football, and if they are unable to make that adjustment, they will have a hard time in any job or team they are a part of.
Sowers noted she came out to her family while in college and that her sexual orientation hindered her in past pursuits as a coach.
“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.
“That moment really impacted me because it was the first time I truly felt judged because of my sexual orientation,” Sowers added. “I was so passionate about coaching and to feel like my opportunities were limited because of who I loved was hard to deal with. However, without that experience I would not be where I am today.”
In her home debut as a 49ers coach, Sowers signed autographs for fans on her way out to the Levi’s Stadium field before their exhibition Saturday night against the Denver Broncos.
“Signing autographs served as one of those moments when I realized the reality of the impact I was having on people,” Sowers added. “I had multiple families call me over and thank me for the doors I am opening for their daughters.”
This News Credit Goes To >> Source link