First Female Referee for the NFL

Ava Pope, Journalist

On Sunday February 7th 2020, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes faced off in Super Bowl 55. Brady walked away with his 7th super bowl ring which is a record number for any NFL player. Although this is exciting news, Tom Brady’s impressive, and long football career was not the only thing that made history. 

Sarah Thomas, age 47 was the first female referee for the NFL as well as the first female ever to officiate in the super bowl. At the beginning of her career, Thomas was the first to officiate in any college football game, and then again the first to officiate at a playoff game and again in the Super Bowl. Thomas began her career in 1996 and throughout all of her years working this job she has been the first female to ref at almost every level. 

Thomas has always been an impressive athlete. Throughout her life, she lettered 5 times in high school softball, and attended the University of Mobile on a full baseball scholarship. During all 3 of her college basketball seasons she made a total of 779 points, 411 rebounds, 108 assists and 192 steals. She was named an academic all American. Both of Thomas’s brothers played football growing up, so her whole life she has been exposed to the game and how it works. She went to her first officiating classes with her brother looking to continue her love of sports for the rest of her life. She began with coaching grade school games in Mississippi and then moved onto high school games later on. 

Thomas worked as a Pharmaceutical sales representative along with officiating before she was hired by the NFL. In 2011, she was Hired as the NFL’s first permanent female ref. She was the first female ref to earn an assignment in the playoff games in 2009, and then the first to become a part of the crew for this year’s Super Bowl game. Before Thomas began officiating, her position was called “head linesman”. After Thomas was hired they changed the name to “down judge” in hopes of making the job more inclusive, and to inspire more women to look into a career in officiating. Sarah Thomas is an inspiration to many young girls by showing them that it is possible to be a successful woman in a highly male dominated field.