Katie Sowers discus 2008

Katie Sowers, now an assistant football coach for the San Francisco 49ers, prepares to throw a discus at a Goshen College track and field meet in 2008.

GOSHEN — A coach on the San Francisco 49ers with ties to Goshen is getting national attention ahead of Super Bowl LIV.

Katie Sowers is the second female coach in NFL history and the first openly gay coach in league history. She’s an offensive assistant with the 49ers after serving the past three seasons in seasonal positions with the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco.

Sowers is a 2009 graduate of Goshen College, having played three sports — soccer, basketball and track and field — during her time as a Maple Leaf. When Sowers wanted to become an assistant coach at the college following her playing career, though, the school would not allow that based on her sexual orientation.

That incident has been the topic of discussion surrounding Goshen College as it promotes Sowers being a coach in the NFL. On Wednesday, Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus issued the following statement regarding Sowers.

“We are very proud of all that our alumna Katie Sowers ’09, an assistant coach for the Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers, has achieved in her life and the ways that she leads on and off the football field with authenticity, grace and excellence,” Stoltzfus said. “She has publicly shared her journey to coaching, including the barriers she faced related to her sexual orientation when seeking a volunteer coaching position at Goshen College. Sadly, in 2009, our policies and the laws of Indiana allowed for hiring decisions to consider sexual orientation. I am glad that Goshen College adopted a new non-discrimination policy in 2015, and I am thankful for the leaders before me who brought this change about, not the least of whom were our students and alumni.

“Our new vision states: ‘Being rooted in the way of Jesus, we will seek inclusive community and transformative justice in all that we do.’ While we cannot go back and change history, justice calls us to stand up now and say that the way Goshen College treated Katie’s offer to coach was hurtful and wrong. I express on behalf of the institution our profound apologies to Katie Sowers and to all others who have not been welcomed here, simply because of who they are. And I want to personally thank all of our students, employees and alumni who call us to be and do better.”

San Francisco takes on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2 in Miami.

Austin Hough can be reached at austin.hough@goshennews.com or at 574-538-2360. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.

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