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And So She Goes
And So She Goes

Episode 6 · 1 year ago

5. Katie Sowers, San Francisco 49ers Offensive Assistant Coach

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

As a former professional athlete, Katie Sowers had to learn to teach when she decided to get into coaching. Her dream was to make it to the NFL, and her journey has not only led her there, but also to a Super Bowl appearance. Katie talks to Amanda about the attention she's received as the first female to coach in a Super Bowl and what the mindset of the team is since the loss. They also talk about how her players are staying motivated during COVID-19 quarantine and who she admires the most in her life. 

Conversations with real women who makesports happen, this is, and so she goes, here's your host, Amanda Borgeous, hello there. I hope you're doing oktoday, you know, as each week of this quarantine passes it's getting harderand harder to stay focused and just try and keep a positive attitude. So thankyou for tuning into this. It gives me something to look forward to I'm reallyexcited about this episode. You will hear from Katy Sours as part of thecoaching staff for the forty niners. She went on an incredible superbowlroun this past season and she received a ton of attention fom becoming thefirst female coach to coach in a superbowl. She once playedprofessionally in a women's league and she got her start encoaching in the NFLwith the Atlanta Falcons. We talk about how she's handled all the recentnational attention she's received, how her players are doing during quarantine.The mindset of the team after a tough superbowl loss and her vision for womenin sports as a whole in the coming years. Here is my conversation with SanFrancisco, forty niners oftens of Assistant, coach, Katy, sours, Hey Katy. How are You I am doing? Well?How are you doing I'm good? Thank you. How are you holding up? Are you findingways to stay busy? Dering quorantine I mean you kindo have to you, have tofind ways to be creative and and make the best of your days, and you haveyour sweet cat. That's keeping you company at least rate yeah, Yeh sweetis not necessarily the term I would use, but yeah he's keeping me company forsure for those that don't follow Katy on any sort of social media. I thinkthat you should anyway, but if not for the cat content can do we call himnaked? Is that like a proper way to describe him, you know he he's hairlessquote unquote, but he actually is starting to develop some fuzz. So Ihe's like a peach buzz prince in his own way. Thatis O my cat. I love it. I thinkthat's Hilarious, there's no real way to transition out up talking about yournaked cat, but we're going to do it anyway. So Before Coaching Katy, you playedprofessionally, I know relike oelse. Do I bring this before coaching? You playedprofessionally in the women's football alions. So at what point did you decideto switch to the other side of the game and teach it you know? I coaching hasalways been on my radar. It was always something that I knew and wanted to do,and so it was you know I my dad was a a colleged baskbal coach.My mom is: It was that former director of nursing, Athesin College, soteaching coaching has always kind of been in my family, and you know playingis just kind of part of what a lot of people do before theycoach, obviously, and so...

...my love for football kind of startedearly and transition to basketball kind of Bein. My main focus when I didn'tthink women could play football, and so you know basketball kind of was thatendgoal. For Me, coaching basketball after I got done playing. What would you say was the biggestlearning cur for you becoming a coach. After being a player, I'm sure therewas a little bit of learning car for you there right yeah. Absolutelyespecially you know it's a unique situation coming from H, women'sfootball. Coming from you know a background where you didn't learn thegame at a very young age, you, you learn the game as an adult and and itcan be kind of an obstacle, but it also I fee, like has given me more tools to use as a coachas a teacher, because I remember learning, the game is an sultand andnot a lot of people can say that they they learn the game as an adult. Sowhen it comes tot the fundamentals when it comes to the wise, the you know, whydo you do this? Why do you do that? How? How does this makes sense? I I Ivividly remember learning that and s as an adult, and so you know it'ssomething that I feel like has has helped me in my career. But you know just just being a player in the women'sgame. You ough to KINDOF learn the game on your own. All these coaches arevolunteer coaches, and you have to take a lot ofresponsibility on making sure that you yourself know what it is that you'retalking about. So there was a lot of internal motivation that happenedbecause of that, and I think it just it made me a better coach well and notonly do you have to learn it, but you have to teach it in a way that whoeveryou'r teaching can absorb it properly. There's an art to that which, obviously,as we know, is called being a teacher, which is what a coach does, but I'msure that there was a time where you had to learn not only the informationbut learn how to teach so that your players were understanding what youwere teaching them yeah absolutely I mean there's, there's a certain way that you have to teach eachindividual and each individual learn differently, as, as we all know, and that's kind of the fun part ofbeing a coach is really figuring out what it is, that's going to tap intothe potential of those players and make them the best that they can possibly beyour first job in the NFL was in twenty sixteen with the Falcons Right. Yes, itwas okay. How important was it to just havethat opportunity to just have that chance to prove that you belonged inthe n Fl an you could do it most of when you're trying to enterinto any career. I think one thing that is really critical is just the chanceto have an opportunity to get your foot in the door, and...

...you know any business I think canrelate to this. Anyone can relate to this and that opportunity, for me wasthat internship and that that chanced to you know, talk to Kyl to talk to theother guys on the staff and really show that I was serious about what I washere to do and serious about my career and and the impact that I knew I couldhave n on a team, and so that really catapulted my career, not only becauseit really was the. I would say the starting point of you know my my anifal journey, but justbecause I had a chance to kind of so what it was that I was capable of, andit pushed my own knowledge to a point that I never even tought possible. Ilike what you said at the beginning of that, where it everyone can relate tothat rate, no matter what industry you're in. Sometimes you just need achance. You just need that first opportunity to not only prove to otherpeople, but also yourself B'cause. It's one thing to know you can do it andit's another to actually be in the environment, where you're forced toeither perform or potentially fail. So, let's fast forard now you're anoffensive assistant for the forty niners. What are your daily tasks? Whatare you responsible for specifically as a quality control, oftensive assistant,coach? Whatever you want to call it Yo, you really are in charge of equality ofthe of the game of you know what it is that you guys are doing as a poachinstaff, and so for me my job can can range from really anything and and whenI say anything, it can be breaking down. You know ill work continuously,breaking down every single team that we are playing. You know looking at theirdefence and basically putting our language into the offences that aregoing against the depences that we're getting ready to play. If that makessense, and then also you know hoping to run scout team, it can be. You K, Ow,I'm kind of the keeper of Jimmy's Wristfans, so I'm in charge of makingsure that you know everything on that. RESTPAND is correct. The protectionsare correct wit, the play calls are correct. The formations are correct,the motions are correct, and so, when it comes to game time, youknow we really have the best possible product out on the field and I always say, there's no job thatthat's too small and there's no there's. There's no saying that says: That's notmy job, regardless of your quality control, regardless of your headcoach.You know. Obviously you need to know how to delegate, but but at the end ofthe day, we're all n missed together, and so for me, it's really anythingthat can help the team. That's what I do well. It was quite the year you hadwith the forty niners this past season. How would you describe all the highsand all the lows of your superbowl run? You know that this past year has beenincredible, and I think when I you know...

...when I was little, I remember dreamingof just going to a super bowl. You know maybe one day I would have enough moneyto buy a sick at the super bowl. It was kind of a bucketless thing andthen too fast forward to this past year, where you know we had an incredibleseason, we hade an incredible run and then to be. You know the consider the first female in a superbowl Um. I it really was a roller coaster ofemotions, as you can imagine, because you know. Obviously the the finaloutcome was not as I would have liked, but it's definitely a year that I'mgoing to remember forever and it's a year that that, hopefully, you willjust motivate us to to continue pushing or more next year. You are in aninteresting position too, because not only are you focussed on having yourfirst opportunity to be on a coaching staff, INA superbowl, but you got a lot ofattention for being the first female coach at the superbowl. Were youprepared for that attention? How did you handle that you know I? I knew that there would bea lot of of attention coming my way H, but I don't think I knew quite theextent until it actually happened. I it was Um, it was pretty overwhelmingat times, and it was something that you know really pushed me to balance, notnot just my job but then also the outside world and- and it took me sometime to actually figure out how to navigate through those differentdynamics that were happening, but it was. You know it was quite incredible to see just the impactthat that had on the world and the the outrage that I received a prior to thegame after the game from you know all different, all different ages, all differentgenders all different people from around the world. It was. It was prettycool to see the impact that just one game can have on a on a nation. How didyour players and fellow coaches react to all that attention that you weregetting worth h, giving you a hard time about it? You know they. They didn't really give me a hard time.They actually, I feel, like I had a team that was helping me navigatethrough that you know it wasn't like I was I was by myself in it. It was you know we we really are a team and-and they knew that I I truly believe this is not about me. This is about us,but but with that you know there comes a responsibility of the platform that Ihave to be visible to not just young girls but to everybody, because it isan important roundbreaking thing that happened and so just kind of navigating.Through that I was. I was happy to have the guys around me that reallysupported me through that, and you know...

...hearing from their families, and youknow no matter where it was that I would go. I would have family membersof coaches of players that just told me how proud they are, and that reallymeant so much to me. That's amazing. It's awesome that you were able to usethat platform in a positive way, but also have people around you that youwork with on a daily basis, support you and lift you up in a crazy time, notonly for you but for the entire team m after you have a huge season like that.How do you come together as a team to kind of sit down and figure out allrigt we've got to move forward. We'vegot Ta pick up where we left offand figure out how to do this again coming from a superbowl loss. You knowit's. First of all, even just getting to the superbowl, for whatever theoutcome is it's there's this point of you look back andyou think, while that was extremely difficult to get to this point, I meananyone who's been in a league. Anyone who knows sports knows how difficult itis to get to the Super Bowl. So you have this moment of while we made it so far and we stillfall short, but the one thing that I love about this team is that we have somany young players that walked into that game. That you know. You typicallywouldn't think that they understand the magnitude of that game, but they trulyhave these old souls to them and that's what I think is going to motivate ourteam forward, and you know we have these leaders that are just it was like they got a taste of whatit's like to be in the big game and we fell short. So it's, I truly believeit's just part of our story. That's going to you know the storey is notfinished and I and I think that's important for people to remember. What's one thing that you take awayfrom this past season, what did you learn about your team going through thehighs, like you said, of going on this amazing run and then going through?What's you know considered, maybe the ultimate low and football is coming offof a superboll loss. You must have seen a lot of resilience from your team that,maybe maybe surprised you or maybe you didn't know that they even had that inthem until they went through that yeah. You know when think when any ofUS pace you know such highs and such lows, but especially the lows. I thinkthat's where you really truly, you get a moment to look around you when youyou reflect on what's truly important and and just how blessed you really are,regardless of where you are in your life and yeah I mean losing in thesuperbowl, even though everyone you know you're you're, so happy to be there,but you're not satisfied because you didn't no one ever remembers. Who gotsecond place. You know, and...

...and but going through that and goingthrough such a hard time only made us closer, and I think that you know whenwe were a team that the same team- Oh and nine, you know and that's how westarted our season. That only was was catapulting us to where we would.We would get to nd wre what we would become and those moments are. Whattruly defined, who we were as a team and and really has a group workingtogether? Have you been talking to your playersright now? I mean we're in this, so in the bay area. For those, if you don'tknow for those of you who don't know, we are in a shelter in place, meaningweare quarantined. Most businesses are closed, with the exception of grocerystores, and things like that. Have you been communicating with yourplayers while everyone's quarantined and just kind of lifting them up andand talking about, what's going on yeah, you know I I'll shoot them attacksevery once in a while, and I can only imagine how difficult it isfor them to continue. You know motivating themselves with you knowtheir the training facilities being closed or you know how they're makingsure they're getting their workouts in and but we have a great group O of guysthat a e are truly internally motivated and and motivated to take this team tothe next level. And so you know they are definitely something that'sobviously new to them, as it is new to everybody, but thy're they're, tryingto make the best of it. There are more and more female coachesin prosports, which is really awesome to see even just on the niners coachingstaff alone. There are what like eleven full time. Female staff members is thatright, yeah not not on the coaching stack, but just in our yeah and in R I would say more footballoperations. We have a a female scout. We have a one. Let's see, we have two season longathletic trainers, W have a full time athletic trainer, and so you knowseeing just the growth of th the women in our organization that are reallytruly, you know making andifference in the game. It's been, it's been amazingand we have a lockef room and obviously a women's locker room that I share withthe athletic trainers and we actually had to make room for more lockersbecause of just the growth of the women, and that was such an amazing moment.You know as little as it seems, but just the idea of adding more lockersbecause we were gaining more women was incredible wow. That is awesome. Do youguys I feel Tlak? You would have this sense of sisterhood where you each kindof have each other's back, then you support each other and really justencourage each other. We do A- and you know it's it's fun- to have that thatclose family. You know I am close with with everybody, regardless of you, knowgender, but we all, as women, share...

...this this bond. That I think isdifferent than the rest and that's you know we are all trail blazers in ourown way, and you know when it comes to maybe cominginto a situation where a team might not have a walker room.That's, as you know, prepared, as maybe some of the others. It's it's fun,because the personalities that I that we have within that locker room, we balance each other out. So you knowI might be the one that's getting upset and you know, and then we have someoneelse Sa. You know you're doing your job. Thank you so much and we just balanceeach other out and we make each other better, and so it's a fun group and Iam blessed to have them. I I love having them around. That's important. Ireally love that. What is your vision for how pro sports will look in thenext? Let's say five to ten years in terms of having more women in powerfulpositions, I think pro sports in general and notjust talking about women getting involved in men's sports. But just youknow, even just the the strength of women's sports. You know as a wholewe're just going to see it becoming more and more normal to not only youknow cheer for a women's team but to see women as decision makers, women aslead roles and and we're not even gong to think twice about it. It won't be aheadline and well look back on these days and we'll think why was it soweird for us to think of women leading men or leading people, because womenhave truly been leading people, their whole lives and your gender does not it. It does not make a difference on inwho you are or what you can do or what you can teach, and I think we'll justsee more and more of that and we'll see society changing as a whole. I will seesociety changing the way that they view gender roles and it's going to be, it'sGoingto be fun to watch. I sure hope. So one thing I love seeing from you is:When you post about young girls reaching out to you about how much youinspire them, they write. They write you handwritten notes and they've, evenlike drawn pictures of you and stuff. That must mean so much to you when I, when I get those letters when Iget you know the the people tweeding out at me or the the messages from fromthe youth. It really motivates me. It truly does it's it's when the hoursseem long when time seems like you know, you know, I miss my family or these are.These are the moments that truly give me the energy to keep going Okati? The point of this show is tohighlight awesome women in Sports, which obviously is why you are here.But can you tell me about a woman who inspires you or maybe someone you workwith that? You think I should have on my show to highlight well the first woman that motivates me morethan anyone. You know it's kind of...

...clice, but my mom is number one hero in my life and I I always said, and Isill say to the stay: If I can be half the woman that she is, I will say: I'msuccessful, I end that's. You know that that truly, for me, is, is the numberone, but there are so many women out there that that I I I love tolisten to that. I learn from and that motivate me, but but no one, no onebeats my mom. That's a good answer. That's a reallygreat answer. We're all very lucky if we have moms that we can look up to andI feel the same way Katy. Thank you so much for joining me. I reallyappreciate you taking the time. I know this is a really interesting season forall of us, so ple stay safe and I hope that your familyis healthy during this timealso- and I hope that sports comes back very soon. For the sake of all of us,we have got to say e all community. We need scorchback in our life and I thinkmaybe we won't take it or grantit anymore, amen to that. Well, I know that wecan't wish sports back into our lives. I do think Katy is right. I have thisfeeling that once everything's back to e normal, we will never take sports forgranted. Ever I really like what Katy had to say about how she handled thespotlight this past season and how much it meant to her to just reach thesuperbowl in the first place, I'm so excited to see how Katy and the ninersregroup and come back next season. I hope you learn more about Katy. As aperson- and if you don't know her story, I encourage you to do some research orat least follow her on social media. She is really inspiring. Pleasesubscribe, so you don't miss out on new episodes. I have some awesome ges linedup in the coming weeks, thanks for listening.

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