Katie Sowers was part of Kyle Shanahan’s coaching staff when the San Francisco 49ers last played in the Super Bowl. That was in 2020, when the Niners faced the Kansas City Chiefs, to whom Sowers would switch as an offensive assistant in the following season.
Players from the teams Sowers trained – Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Nick Bosa – will be competing in the rematch.
Oh, and Sowers is also from Kansas City.
So, where does her loyalty lie in Super Bowl LVIII?
„I want the Chiefs to win, and I want the Niners to win,“ Sowers told Deadspin. „As crazy as that sounds. Honestly, I’m torn. I don’t think I’ll really know who I’m cheering for until the game starts. Honestly.“
„Living in Kansas City, I’ve seen the amazing things a successful team does,“ she said. „But remember the pain four years ago when I lost to the Chiefs, whom I then thought were the enemy. It’s really a weird feeling to see this matchup again and almost revert to some of those emotions one had.“
This Super Bowl was also a historic moment for Sowers, as she became the first openly gay and first female coach in the history of the Big Game.
„Sometimes it felt like a movie,“ Sowers told Deadspin. „It wasn’t just a dream to be there, playing with the Kansas City Chiefs against a team that meant so much to me, but it really was a dream come true. It was unreal to be in that atmosphere in Miami and to hear many fans cheering for me, a low level coach, as we left the tunnel, to feel that kind of support.“
Sowers‘ love for football stemmed from playing in her neighborhood with other kids and her twin sister, Liz. As they grew up, they asked for footballs, pads, and other gear for Christmas every year to play and beat each other.
She was able to play professionally with the West Michigan Mayhem and the Kansas City Titans in the Women’s Football Alliance. Sowers was also part of the U.S. Women’s American Football National Team that won the 2013 International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship.
After suffering a hip injury, she retired in 2016.
„I ended up back in Kansas City,“ Sowers said. „I wanted to keep coaching, so I ended up eventually coaching basketball in the fifth grade, and Scott Pioli’s daughter was on the team.“
Pioli was the GM of the Kansas City Chiefs before taking the same role at the Atlanta Falcons. He had gotten to know Sowers and her love for football and brought her to Atlanta as an intern.
„I saw Becky Hammon as a coach in the NBA,“ Sowers recalled. „That was the moment it hit me. How couldn’t I think about coaching football?“
At the Falcons, she met Shanahan, who brought her to San Francisco.
„When I first arrived at the 49ers, we weren’t a great team,“ Sowers told Deadspin. „I remember being 0-9 and I remember a really terrible season after that.“
In that „terrible season,“ Jimmy Garapolo suffered a torn ACL, and San Francisco ended the season with a 4-12 record. Nevertheless, Sowers remained loyal to Shanahan and the team and was rewarded with a Super Bowl appearance a year later.
Now, Sowers and her sister coach together at Ottawa University in Kansas. Their team recently won the third consecutive NAIA championship. Sowers says some people are disappointed she didn’t continue her NFL journey, but she feels that her current role is helping the football grow more than ever.
„I’m in the position now to coach some of the best athletes I’ve ever coached,“ Sowers told Deadspin. „They happen to be women, they happen to throw the same ball, and they happen to do it at an extremely high level. These are elite athletes who, in my opinion, have done more for football than these superstars because they are trailblazers. They are opening doors for women who never had a chance. It was a big adjustment initially, but I fell in love with the game all over again.“