Katie Sowers will make history as the first female to coach in a Super Bowl when the 49ers face the Kansas Chiefs in Miami.
This will be Sowers' third year with the 49ers after spending time with the Atlanta Falcons. Her journey to Santa Clara was anything but conventional. Sowers ultimately ended up on the football field because she was turned down as a volunteer coach for the Goshen College women’s basketball team over a decade ago because of her sexual orientation.
While at the time the decision was devastating, it started her on the path to the 49ers and now the Super Bowl.
Sowers shared the story with NBC Sports Bay Area in November 2019.
“For a long time I felt lost," Sowers said. "That’s when I googled women’s football. And so, in a way, looking back, and in the way I feel like I’ve kind of viewed that experience was that that experience actually led me to football and led me to a second chance at the game that I originally loved the most."
On Wednesday, Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus released a statement acknowledging and apologizing for discriminating against Sowers. The school adopted a non-discrimination policy in 2015.
San Francisco 49ers
We are very proud of all that our alumna Katie Sowers '09, an assistant coach for the Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers, has achieved in her life and the ways that she leads on and off the football field with authenticity, grace and excellence. She has publicly shared her journey to coaching, including the barriers she faced related to her sexual orientation when seeking a volunteer coaching position at Goshen College.
Sadly, in 2009, our policies and the laws of Indiana allowed for hiring decisions to consider sexual orientation.
I am glad that Goshen College adopted a new non-discrimination policy in 2015, and I am thankful for the leaders before me who brought this change about, not the least of whom were our students and alumni.
Our new vision states: “Being rooted in the way of Jesus, we will seek inclusive community and transformative justice in all that we do.” While we cannot go back and change history, justice calls us to stand up now and say that the way Goshen College treated Katie’s offer to coach was hurtful and wrong. I express on behalf of the institution our profound apologies to Katie Sowers and to all others who have not been welcomed here, simply because of who they are. And I want to personally thank all of our students, employees and alumni who call us to be and do better.
"I loved my time at Goshen and I love everything Goshen College represents,” Sowers told NBC Sports Bay Area regarding the apology. “This moment was tough, but the reality is we all experience rejection and adversity in our lives.
“When, not if, we go through these moments of adversity, we can view them as road blocks and feel sorry for ourselves or we can view them as a part of our story. I prefer to see what happened to me as a detour that put me on a path to where I am now.”
Many of the 49ers players have shared how Sowers has been an asset to their productivity and growth with the team. They value her for what she brings to the table and respect her for who she is.