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Katie Sowers opens up about future plans: ‘I’m not saying my NFL days are over’

The groundbreaking coach says she’s still determined to be a head coach one day.

San Francisco 49ers v New England Patriots
Katie Sowers made history last year as the first female and openly gay coach in Super Bowl history.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Katie Sowers is excited for what’s next. She’s already made history as the first female coach in Super Bowl history and the first openly gay coach in NFL history. Now, she’s plotting her future.

At a special Q&A held by the LGBT+@Sky and Women@Sky network groups, Sowers, who came out publicly in 2017, said she still dreams of being a head coach one day.

“I’m not saying my NFL days are over, she said, via Sky Sports. “There’s a possibility even this year that I might be back.”

Sowers made history in February 2020 when she coached the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. San Francisco brought her in as a summer intern in 2017 under the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship, and she worked her way up to assistant coach. Sowers came out publicly as lesbian on Outsports in August 2017.

She departed the 49ers staff in January.

To commemorate Lesbian Visibility Day, Sowers told a story of personal resilience. Originally, she wanted to stay on her college basketball team’s staff as an assistant, but her coach told her she was no longer welcome. She had recently come out as gay to family and friends.

“It was a moment where I decided I can either look back and try to open this door that was slammed in my face, or I can view what other opportunities are out there,” Sowers said. “I believe that led me onto the path to where I am today.”

Instead of coaching at the collegiate level, Sowers started coaching a fifth-grade girls basketball team. And fortuitously, one of the players’ fathers was NFL executive Scott Pioli (who played a central role in Ryan O’Callaghan’s coming out story). They forged a friendship, and Pioli helped her land an internship with the Falcons.

Sowers penned her coming out story the following year, when she landed in the Bay Area.

“As LGBT+ people, we all have to handle whether we come out or how we deal with being authentic in our own way, and when we’re ready,” Sowers said. “The more that you can strive to get to that point, the better version of yourself that you’ll see.”

These days, Sowers is helping her sister coach the flag football team at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas, and spending ample time with her niece — who used to only think football was for girls, by the way.

Sowers is proud of her influence.

“We were driving one time, she was about 4, and we pointed out some boys playing football. She looked at us and she said, ‘boys don’t play football,’” Sowers said. “And I realized all she’d ever seen was my twin sister and I playing.

“It just goes to show you how what we teach our children changes their view of the world. We actually had to teach her that boys could play football with girls as well.”