Katie Sowers parted ways with the San Francisco 49ers earlier this year, and it left her with some serious question marks about her own future in coaching.
So what did she do?
She went home to family.
Having grown up in Kansas, she headed back to the Kansas City area where her sister, Liz, coaches the Ottawa University women’s flag football team, which competes in the NAIA. The team was looking for some coaching help, and Sowers was eager to stay in the game.
Joining the coaching staff of the team with Liz made it all the more rewarding.
“When I left San Francisco and came back to Kansas City I had felt somewhat like I didn’t know if I was still on the right path,” Sowers told Outsports. “I had a lot of questions about my future. My sister’s flag team, I got involved with them and they became my chosen family.”
Chosen family. It’s something LGBTQ people know well, surrounding ourselves with people in our local community when acceptance in parts of society isn’t guaranteed.
Chosen family is also the theme of a new campaign from Visible wireless service, highlighting the LGBTQ community and Sowers’ journey, celebrating people who are proudly visible about their chosen family.
For Sowers, working with the women on the Ottawa Braves women’s flag football team — and together winning a national championship — has been an opportunity to stay connected to football and expand her football family.
“It was an unexpected path for me, but it was a transition period to get to ride along on the journey with these trailblazing women playing flag football in college, and I didn’t have any idea I had 20 strangers at the time who were waiting to be my family.”
No matter where she goes, Sowers puts family first and foremost. It’s something she learned from her father, who passed away about a year ago. He was a coach himself, and the idea of extending the love of family to players, other coaches and those around her was something instilled in Sowers at a young age.
The NFL coach currently with the Kansas City Chiefs makes no secret across social media and in her interviews the importance her mother, father and sister hold in her life.
It was about a year ago that she lost her father, and during the height of the pandemic they were unable to hold a memorial service for him there in the Kansas City. They finally held a memorial recently, and Sowers’ entire career serves as a memorial of her father’s legacy.
Today, parts of Sowers’ “chosen family” are the players she has gotten to work with. Despite no longer being with the 49ers, she stays in touch with many of them and continues to follow their success.
“There are so many players I keep in contact with,” she said. “Pierre Garçon, he actually sent the flag team a bunch of compression socks. He’s like a brother to me. Kevin White and River [Cracraft] and all these guys still with San Francisco, I still keep in contact with them and I care deeply about how they’re doing.”
Now part of the campaign for Visible, Sowers is aware that some people may wonder about all the attention she gets as a trailblazing out woman in football. Yet she also knows that, if anything is going to change in football and more opportunities are going to open up for people, as an LGBTQ woman she has to be willing to step into the spotlight from time to time.
“Anyone who gets to know me, and anyone who knew my father and the way he coached, he never wanted to be in a headlines,” she said. “He wanted to help peoples’ lives, and that’s what I want to do in coaching.”
Sowers will be with the Chiefs when they open training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo., on July 27.