Sports

From NFL to flag football: Coach Katie Sowers says 'play like a girl'

As the first female coach in Super Bowl history and now an Olympic women's flag football coach, Coach Sowers shows what is possible in sports.

From NFL to flag football: Coach Katie Sowers says 'play like a girl'
AP
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Former NFL Coach Katie Sowers says she believes firsts are important. She's setting an example for diversity in U.S. sports: as a 49ers coach, she became the first openly gay, and the first female coach in a Super Bowl. 

She's now pushing for more recognition in women's flag football, and serves as the director of strategic initiatives for the sport at Ottawa University. 

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Sowers has blazed a path for what is possible in NFL football, but says she looks forward to seeing what is possible in women's flag football. 

"Women can actually strive to help get their education paid for, and get out there and potentially become an Olympic athlete," she says. 

Sowers is also now the head coach of the Italian women's national team. 

Finding ways to more fairly monetize their talents has been an ongoing challenge in some parts of U.S. sports for athletes. The WNBA has seen a rise in game viewership on air, and in person filling seats. That momentum has the league wanting to market itself better. 

Bethany Donaphin, the WNBA's head of league operations, "We wanted to be able to provide additional opportunities for players to earn income throughout the year."

Donaphin says their player marketing agreement was born from collective bargaining in 2020 that gained particular interest after Brittney Griner's nearly 10-month imprisonment in Russia. 

While women's flag football is an entirely different beast, the potential for it to become a lucrative opportunity for female athletes could be greater after recent business moves in the sports world. 

Sowers' path to success and overcoming obstacles could bring more women to these sports. She said of her time coaching in the NFL, "It really is a dream come true for anyone who gets to experience that."

As for women's flag football in the Olympics and the message it can send to girls, Sowers says, "you can play like a girl, and that is actually a compliment."