Sarah Thomas shared her journey to becoming the NFL’s first female official during the co-located CUNA Technology Council and Operations & Member Experience Council Conferences Wednesday in Chicago.
Thomas grew up as an athlete in Mississippi during a time when girls’ teams didn’t exist for many sports. She says being the only girl on her otherwise all-male basketball teams prepared her to become a referee.
After playing college basketball—and being asked to leave a recreational men’s basketball league—she attended a referee’s meeting with her brother. She was immediately hooked.
“When I saw these guys challenge each other on rules, play situations, and what-if scenarios, I was so intrigued,” she says. “But I didn’t know anything about football. That competitive side of me kicked in.”
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