Breaking NFL barriers

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Remember this name: Sarah Thomas, pictured last night at MSU with fellow football  official, Jack Vaughan, one of her mentors.  She is slender, tall, beautiful, charismatic and smart. She could also be classified as an expert on the mechanics of football.  I wonder how she got that way while the rest of us girls were taking selfies and eating chocolate chip cookies in the press box.

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Sarah’s a pioneer in the male dominated world of football officiating.  In fact, she’s the first woman to forge the unlikely journey into officiating in the National Football League. She goes out of her way not to cause a stir when the crowd realizes there’s a “girl” on the field.

“She tucks her long blond hair inside her cap, so she doesn’t get noticed.  But soon, someone in the stands observes ‘That official runs like a woman,’ said Linda LaMantia, wife of Steve LaMantia, the referee with Conference USA who orchestrated the MSU-Mississippi Southern game last night.  He welcomed Sarah onto his crew some four years ago and had the highest praise for her composure and performance.

good saraThomas doesn’t consider herself a pioneer, just “one of the guys.” But as one of two female officials in the NFL’s officiating development program, Thomas’ number is up to break barriers in a male dominated world.

The mother of three is a pharmaceutical sales representative who has a very supportive husband. She began her officiating career in 1996, when an NFL scout spotted her working a high school game. From there, she joined Conference USA and was invited to join the NFL’s developmental program. Thomas worked training camps and preseason games last season for the NFL. Next stop – the  Super Bowl.  You watch.

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