Katie Sowers, have you heard the name? If not, you probably don’t care much about the San Francisco 49ers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about her. She is the second woman to hold a full-time coaching position and the first openly gay coach in the NFL. Sowers is also the first gay female to coach an NFL team that made it to the Super Bowl. Now do you care?
Katie Sowers, who is currently 33 years old, was born in Hesston, Kansas where she began playing football at eight years old on an all girls teams. She attended Goshen College before earning a master’s degree in kinesiology at the University of Central Missouri in 2012. During her college years, Katie played for the West Michigan Mayhem and the Kansas City Titans. After she retired from playing in 2016, she worked for the Falcons for a short amount of time and then, in 2017, was hired as an offensive assistant to the 49ers. Two years after this, she and the 49ers lost the Super Bowl.
Football in America is known as a men’s sport, but sports should not be for certain genders. Even though things are changing, football is still a boys’ sport when it comes to actually playing the game. Most high school football teams are co-ed, but the teams are still all male. At Berkeley High School (BHS) there are 32 members on the varsity football team and 17 on the junior varsity team. They are all boys. And many would be surprised if there were to be a girl. Why is that? It could be that since it is all boys, it is intimidating for girls to imagine being the only girl on the team. Genetically, boys are often taller, bigger, and stronger than girls, due to their higher levels of testosterone, and girls have to work harder to match these physical attributes. Therefore, being the only girl in a sport where tackling is a crucial element sounds extremely intimidating.
BHS varsity football player Jake Jandra believes the reason girls do not try out is because of the physical differences: “It’s such a rough game and you are always hurt or hurting. I’m not saying that girls aren’t capable of withstanding pain, but high school football is no joke. Like I’m 6’2” 180, and I’m skinny for football,” he said.
One solution would be to introduce a big group of girls all at once. But that does not seem very likely: many girls would not be enthusiastic about joining and boys on the team would not necessarily be accepting of the changes. So it’s up to individuals like Katie Sowers, who are passionate enough about what they love, even if what they love is geared against their gender to get to the top.