Good call, ref

NFL’s first female official shares how she tackled many barriers along the way.

Sarah Thomas, the NFL’s first female official

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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