By Kristen E. Strubberg Editor-in-Chief
Meet Sarah Thomas: the first woman to wear the officials’ black-and white strips in the National Football League’s history. Sports have always been a huge part of Sarah’s life. As a student, the Mississippi native
played softball and was an all-American basketball student athlete in college. Her brother introduced football officiating to his sister and before long she was calling the big games for the “Big Ten” college conference football games. Soon Sarah’s refereeing excellence grabbed the attention of NFL scouts. It was Gerald Austin, an NFL official himself, who observed her work officiating Conference USA football who recruited her to take the two year NFL referee training course. Now, she is in the big leagues. The only thing she does different than her male co-workers? She tucks her bun under her referee cap. Outside of that, she has never found herself treated differently by any of the officiating crews she’s worked with over the years.
Sarah admits most players don’t even realize she is a woman which, according to the Washington Post, is how she wants it.
“When you’re out there officiating, the guys don’t think of me as a female. I mean, they want me to be just like them — just be an official — and that’s what I’ve always set out to do.”
Find out more about Sarah Thompson’s rise to the NFL at the Washington Post.