Call it shattering the glass ceiling or a major breakthrough in the world of sports, Sarah Thomas has become the first female referee to officiate a playoff game in league history on Sunday for the New England Patriots-Los Angeles Chargers AFC Divisional Round game, according to reports from Cameron Filipe of Football Zebras. With this, Thomas added another “first” in her tally of successes after making history in 2015 by becoming the first full-time female official in NFL history.

“As women, the way we carry ourselves speaks a lot” – Thomas

Here are a few things to know about the badass woman and the newest sensation on the Internet:

  • Mississippi native Thomas is a mother of three and also a former college athlete. “I’ve always said that if you do something because you love it and not try to prove somebody wrong or get recognition for it, the recognition probably just is going to happen,” Thomas told CBS News in 2015.
  • Thomas, who is now in her fourth season as an NFL referee, was selected as the NFL’s first female official in 2015.
  • Prior to that, she became the first female official to work in a Big Ten stadium in 2011.
  • In 2009, she was the first woman to officiate a college football bowl game.
  • In 2017, Thomas got to be an alternate for the Atlanta Falcons-Los Angeles Rams’ wild-card game, but never took the field. For the last two seasons, she is been donning the hat of a down judge, while previously working as a line judge.
  • On Sunday, Thomas joined the crew led by referee Ron Torbert as the first woman to serve as an on-field official for an NFL playoff game, according to CNN.

Also read: Meet the women footballers who would give the men a run for their money

Mississippi’s senior senator, Republican Roger Wicker, praised her, tweeting:

“As women, the way we carry ourselves speaks a lot. Field presence is what they talk about,” Thomas said in 2017. “But you can still be a woman, you can be attractive, and whatever way you carry yourself speaks volumes to the reception. A man may feel as if may he can have his way or whatever, but I just think that when we carry ourselves with confidence, and walk into a room with confidence, the atmosphere kind of changes,” she added.

  • Thomas was a high school standout in softball and went to Alabama’s University of Mobile on a basketball scholarship.
  • Sports was always her passion. In 1996, on her brother’s suggestion, Thomas introduced herself to football officiating. Soon, she was the first woman to work high school games for the Gulf Coast Football Officials Association.
  • In 2007, she became the first woman to officiate a major college football game, when Memphis hosted Jacksonville State.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King tweeted:

Feature image credit: Daily Wire

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