Sarah Thomas, The First Female NFL Referee
The life of Sarah Thomas is full of 'firsts'! Born in Pascagoula, Mississippi Thomas attended Pascagoula High School, where she became the first student to letter five times in softball. In spite of her softball skills, she went to college on a basketball scholarship! Thomas was a full package athlete, attending the University of Mobile as an academic all-American. After three seasons Thomas ranked 5th in school history with the following stats - 779 points, 441 rebounds, 108 assists, and 192 steals.
Upon graduating she worked as a pharmaceutical representative but in 1996 she had a career change that set her on the path of making sports history. She started calling games for youth league and high school games, before becoming the first woman to officiate a college football game in 2007. That same year Thomas became the first woman to officiate a bowl game, and the first to officiate in a Big Ten stadium. Her impressive 'firsts' didn't stop there! In 2015 she made history again, where she became the first full-time female referee for the NFL. She wears uniform #53!
Her biggest break in the world of professional football came in February 2021, when the mother of 3 became the first woman to officiate in a Super Bowl! That would also lead to her staring feature in a Super Bowl LIII commercial to boot. Talk about a game-changer! See more on how Sarah Thomas earned her stripes below.