The Women of Super Bowl LV
By Peri Kahn
On Sunday February 2nd, in Tampa Bay, Florida, the Kansas City Chiefs suffered an incredible upset to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, losing Super Bowl LV 31-9. But it wasn’t only the G.O.A.T, Tom Brady, or the brutal Buccaneer's defense that made the game interesting, it was also the groundbreaking milestones that occurred behind the tackles and rushing plays. Sarah Thomas, a 47-year-old woman from Mississippi, became the first woman Super Bowl referee. In addition, this Super Bowl hosted the most women trainers in the history of the big game.
Sarah Thomas grew up in a household that was centered around sports. As a girl, Sarah played basketball, which she continued through college at the University of Mobile, and competed in softball. Sarah’s two brothers, avid football players, are how Sarah developed her knowledge and passion for the aggressive game of football.
As a young woman, Sarah Thomas began officiating grade-school football games, eventually working up to high school games. Soon after, Thomas got her first college referee job in 2009, becoming the first woman college football referee. Six years later, in 2015, Sarah Thomas was made the first permanent woman referee in the NFL, influencing the change of the term ‘line judge’ to ‘down judge.’ The term was changed to be more gender inclusive, due to the fact that line judge referenced the word “lineman” and not “linewoman”. By changing the term, the NFL wanted to encourage more women to take officiating jobs, as well as other coaching and training jobs. And finally, to put the icing on the cake, Sarah Thomas became the the first woman to officiate the Super Bowl in NFL history, leaving her mark in the sport forever.
In addition to Sarah Thomas making history in the football world, there was another amazing milestone that was reached on February 2nd: for the first time there were two women coaches, Lori Locust and Maral Javadir, on the Super Bowl sidelines, the most in football’s history. Lori Locust got into the NFL at the age of 40, interning under Baltimore’s defensive line coach Joe Cullen. Now, Locust is the assistant defensive line coach for the Buccaneers, working side by side with head defensive line coach, Kacy Rodgers. Locust is a successful coach, training a highly skilled defensive line who hunted down Patrick Mahomes, one of the best quarterbacks in the league and former MVP. Maral Javadir, the Buccaneer’s assistant strength and conditioning trainer, is a key player behind the scenes of the complicated schemes played out on the field. Javadir builds and stretches the muscles of the all the Tampa Bay football stars, keeping them loose, so they produce their best athletic performances.
These three women are following in the footsteps of many greats, like Babe Didrikson and Billy Jean King, who have proved that women can do the same things that men can, and that sports are anybody’s arena. Sarah Thomas, Lori Locust, and Maral Javadir, are just the beginning of women integrating into the NFL, and are paving the way for young girls to become football fanatics.