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Sarah Thomas: Pioneering Progress in NFL Officiating

by Moxieplay
From High School Referee to Super Bowl Official, Breaking Barriers on the Football Field.
In her ninth season in the NFL, Sarah Thomas has began the transformative shift taking place in professional football officiating. She dreamed of becoming the first woman referee in the NFL

The NFL was also letting more skilled people become referees on Sundays, wearing the well-known zebra uniforms. Among these people, Sarah Thomas shines as she enters her ninth season as an NFL official, a role she has earned through dedication and skill. But who exactly is Sarah Thomas, and how did she blaze a trail of progress in football?

Sports have been an integral facet of Sarah Thomas’ life for decades. From her formative years, she exhibited a natural likeness and aptitude for athletics. In high school, she excelled in softball, accruing five letters, before she pursued her passion for basketball with a scholarship at the University of Mobile. After school, she briefly worked in the pharmaceutical industry before getting into football.

Sarah’s journey into football officiating started in 1999 when she became a referee for high school varsity football. In 2006, she got an invitation to an officials camp hosted by Gerry Austin, a coordinator for Conference USA. In 2007, she became the first woman to officiate a major college football game, a big achievement during a game between Memphis and Jacksonville State. By 2009, she was one of only five women officiating college games, even officiating a bowl game.

In 2010, Sarah moved up and officiated United Football League games, including the championship game. In 2015, the NFL made a big announcement, introducing Sarah Thomas as the first female official. This was a big deal, and she had already worked with NFL teams during practices and scrimmages in 2013.

Her first regular season game was significant, happening in a match between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. She was a line judge. This was a step up for her confirmed by Dean Blandino, a former NFL VP of Officiating. She became a down judge in 2017, a role formerly known as “head linesman.”
In 2021, she reached a high point when she was chosen as an official for Super Bowl 55, the first woman to do so. This was a big achievement that inspired more women to consider careers in officiating and the NFL.
Sarah is still an important part of the NFL’s officiating team, working as a down judge with jersey No. 53. Though she’s no longer the only female referee, she remains a pioneer in her role.

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