First-ever openly gay coach in the Super Bowl was turned down for coaching job in college because of her sexuality
In a few days time, NFL coach Katie Sowers will become the first openly gay coach to reach the Super Bowl.
Sowers – who is assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, will watch the team compete next month at the Super Bowl LIV in Miami in a landmark moment for LGBT+ representation in sport.
But Sowers has revealed that she was actually turned down for a coaching job as a student because of her sexuality, and has finally received an apology from her former college.
Sowers graduated Goshen College, a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana, in 2009 and she said that at the time she already knew what she wanted to do.
She told NBC Sports Bay Area: “With coaching being my final destination in terms of what I wanted to do, I thought it would be natural to ask if I could be a volunteer assistant coach.
“My coach called me in and said, ‘There have been a lot of parents who are worried, their daughters being around someone who is gay’… So he asked that I not be around the team anymore.
“I was near tears. He gave me a hug and said, ‘It’s nothing personal.’ I remember hugging him, but being extremely upset. I grieved about it for a while, then I decided I had to move on.”
She said the experience led her to googling “women’s football”, which led her to become a player in the Women’s Football Alliance and eventually to coaching and the Super Bowl.
Goshen College adopted a non-discrimination policy in 2015, and Sowers’ achievements have finally prompted the college to apologise for discriminating against her.
President of Goshen College, Rebecca Stoltzfus, said in a statement: “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.”