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Loyalist coach and students glad to see first woman and openly gay coach in Super Bowl

Katie Sowers started her football career playing for the Women’s Football Alliance. When she retired in 2016, she became a coach for the Atlanta Falcons training camp. Now she’s on her way to the Super Bowl as offensive assistant coach with the San Francisco 49ers. Photo courtesy of Katie Sowers via Instagram

By Brittany Woodcock  [1]

BELLEVILLE – It’s “fantastic” that an openly gay woman will be one of the coaches for Super Bowl LIV [2], a Belleville basketball coach says.

Katie Sowers, offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers [3], will be the first woman and openly gay person to coach in Super Bowl history. The 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers [4] 37 to 20 last Sunday to get to the Feb. 2 Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Loyalist Lancers [5] women’s basketball assistant coach Claire Davies says it’s amazing that Sowers broke through the barriers of a male-dominated sport.

“I think it’s fantastic!” Davies told QNet News this week. “Being a female in a male league must be difficult.” When the players and coaches are all men, “you have to be that much better and shine that much more.”

Claire Davies (left) divides her time between her daughter and the Lancers basketball team, of which she is assistant coach. Photo courtesy of Claire Davies

Davies said her own love for sports came from playing basketball as a kid, and she played right up through university. She’s one of the few female coaches in the Ontario College Athletic Association [6]. Three of the association’s 19 head coaches are women.

There should be more, she said. “The talent we’re producing in Canada of women athletes is amazing. It’s just unfortunate that there aren’t as many female coaches to help that influence.”

But women have more obstacles to go through to become a coach, including juggling family time with coaching, she added.

“I think for a lot of women, it’s really hard to be a family person and be a coach. I don’t think women do not want to be a part of (sports). There are just some definite obstacles there.”

Katie Sowers became the second woman to hold a full-time coaching position in the National Football League when she was hired by the 49ers in 2017. Photo courtesy of Katie Sowers via Twitter

When QNet News ask Loyalist College [7] students what they think about Sowers’s achievement, the response was positive.

“It’s great to see a gay woman get to that high of a position,” said Heather Harnden, former Child and Youth Care student. “I’m sure it’s inspiring to young queer athletes. They will finally have a role model … There aren’t enough women in the sport or watching the sport. If there were more, maybe I would be more inclined to get into it.”

But a big part of her lack of interest is traditional ideas that come with the sport, she said. 

“In my hometown, there was a girl who had to fight to be allowed on the football team because of all the old-school ideas. She was mercilessly harassed for even wanting to be on the team,” Harnden said. “There is still the expectation that girls are just supposed to be the cheerleaders.”

Two other students, responding in the Facebook group Accepted: Loyalist, said there’s still a way to go:

You can watch history being made when the 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs [8] on Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m.