Super Bowl marks the latest event to see pioneering women achieve breakthroughs in sports

Line judge Sarah Thomas #53 looks on before Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Photo by Kevin C. Cox (Getty Images)

It’s officially Women’s History Month.

Last month’s Super Bowl LV in Tampa proved to serve as another breakthrough for women in sports, in a stretch of months that’s been full of them.

Sarah Thomas became the first woman to be an official in a Super Bowl, while the Buccaneers had two female assistant coaches, defensive line assistant Lori Locust and assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar, who became the first women assistants to be a part of a Super Bowl-winning team.

Locust and Javadifar followed in the footsteps of Katie Sowers, an assistant for the San Francisco 49ers who became the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl last year.

They’re now added to the list of other women who have broken barriers in sports recently.

Here are a few of the others.

  • In November, the Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng as the first female general manager in baseball history. The 51-year-old Ng had previously served as an assistant general manager with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, and as Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of baseball operations.
  • Also in November, Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a football game for a Power Five conference program when she handled kicking duties for Vanderbilt. Fuller is a member of Vanderbilt’s soccer team and put “Play Like A Girl” on the back of her helmet for the historic occasion.
  • In December, adventurer Emily Harrington became the first woman to free climb Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan, a 3,200-foot rock formation with a smooth granite wall. Harrington completed the climb in just over 21 hours to cement herself in the record books.
  • In January, the Boston Red Sox hired Bianca Smith as a minor league coach, becoming the first Black woman to coach in professional baseball. The 29-year-old Smith spent time in internships with the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds and had extensive experience as a college hitting coordinator.

More breakthroughs are likely coming in the near future.


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