Out lesbian coach Katie Sowers lands prestigious appointment

Ottawa University Director has announced that Katie Sowers has been named Director of Athletic Strategic Initiatives. In addition, Sowers will also continue in her role as Defensive Coordinator and Director of Operations for OU’s Women’s Flag Football team, which won the 2021 NAIA Women’s Flag Football National Invitational Championship.  

RELATED: Katie Sowers posts heartfelt Pride message

 Ottawa University Director of Athletics, Arabie Conner released this statement:

Katie Sowers | Creative Commons

“Coach Sowers’ addition to the Athletic Department office staff along with her visionary leadership will immediately impact our athletic programs positively. We have for a long time sought to elevate our ability to reach and provide opportunities to various underserved populations, and especially the continued growth and development of women in sport,” said Conner. “Ottawa University has needed someone of Coach Sowers’ caliber and we see her and her trademark dynamism impacting areas of diversity, equity and inclusion in sport, resource development and outreach beyond the bounds of our own institution and campus community.” 

Sowers has quickly become a trailblazer for women in the sports world, breaking barriers and opening doors of opportunity for women at all levels of athletics.

At OU, she will continue to lead the growth efforts of female intercollegiate sports while increasing the visibility of the programs currently offered on campus. Sowers will also lead the development and fundraising efforts geared toward the expansion of and additions to Dick Peters Sports Complex to build a state-of-the-art facility for women’s flag football and other Braves athletic teams. 

“I am excited to join forces with such a great university that shares my same vision for growing the game of not only women’s flag football, but for creating a platform that strongly advocates for leveling the playing field for all,” said Sowers.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to use my platform to put myself at the forefront of this initiative at such an opportune and surreal time for women in sport, while dedicating my time and energy to positively impacting all of Braves athletics.” 

Katie Sowers

This past summer, Sowers served on the coaching staff of the Kansas City Chiefs through the Bill Walsh Diversity Fellowship where she had the opportunity to coach alongside coach Andy Reid, one of the most accomplished coaches in NFL history. 

Before arriving at Ottawa, Sowers was an offensive assistant coach with the San Francisco 49ers from 2017 to 2021. She made history becoming the first female coach on an NFL staff to coach in a Super Bowl. Prior to her time with the 49ers, Sowers was a wide receivers’ coaching intern with the Atlanta Falcons. 

A native of Hesston, Kan., Sowers played football in the Women’s Football Alliance for the West Michigan Mayhem and her hometown team, the Kansas City Titans. She was also selected to play on the USA Women’s National Football team in 2013 which won the IFAF World Championship defeating Team Canada.

Before the start of the 2017 NFL season, Sowers came out publicly as a lesbian and became the first openly LGBT coach in the National Football League. Sowers was refused a volunteer coaching position at Goshen College in 2009 because of her sexual orientation. In 2020 the president of the college apologized for rejecting her.

About Ottawa University 

Founded in 1865 under the auspices of American Baptist Church and the Ottawa Tribe, Ottawa University is a comprehensive, not-for-profit educational institution that serves 3,000 students through its residential campuses in Ottawa, Kan., and Surprise, Ariz., and adult campuses in Overland Park, Kan.; Phoenix and Surprise, Ariz.; Brookfield, Wis.; as well as online. For more information, visit www.ottawa.edu

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