KEY POINTS

  • Sarah Thomas is the first woman referee at the Super Bowl  
  • Thomas has a daughter who wants to be just like her when she grows up
  • Thomas is honored and humbled to be part of Super Bowl 2021

The 55th Super Bowl featured a number of firsts for women.

Lori Locust, a defensive line assistant, and Maral Javadifar, an assistant strength and conditioning coach, were both part of the staff of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians. Aside from having two woman coaches, Sarah Thomas, officiated the game, and she was the first female referee at the Super Bowl after officiating the game between Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccanners, The New York Times reported.

Thomas, 47, first became a full-time referee in the NFL in 2015. She has a daughter who watched the big game from home and she was so happy with how her achievement encouraged young girls, including her child, to dream big. She was proud that her daughter wanted to be like her — "a mom, a teacher, and a ref."

"It's just so meaningful," Thomas was quoted by Sporting News as saying. "I never set out to be the first in any of this, but knowing the impact that I'm having on not just my daughter but young girls everywhere, women everywhere, when I get on that field, and I take it all in, I know that I'm probably gonna get a little teary eyed. It's just remarkable, and I'm truly honored and humbled to be a part of this year's Super Bowl crew."

A native of Brandon, Mississippi, Thomas began officiating in 1996. She was the first woman to serve as an NCAA football referee. She has also spent time as an official at NFL team minicamps. She's been a down judge since 2017 and former NFL official Gerry Austin has nothing but praises for her.

"She understood that the rules of the game of football should be applied within the spirit of the game and not within the technical writing of the rules," Austin said in 2015. "I've always (stressed) understanding the spirit of rules and don't be technical. If there's a call to be made, have the courage to make the call, and she fit within that framework. And she has great communication skills. She has the ability to calm the coach down and to explain whatever the coach is questioning. More times than not, a coach just wants to vent."

In her previous interview, Thomas said she was raised with her brothers and she was "one of the guys." But she made it clear that she didn't try to be one of the guys.

"I don’t try to be one of the guys. I am a female, but I don’t look at myself as just a female. I look at myself as an official. With their respect and the rest that I have for them, it just doesn’t feel like it’s a male-dominated profession," she explained.

Sarah Thomas TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 07: Chris Jones #95 of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks with line judge Sarah Thomas #53 during the second quarter of the game in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images