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Sarah  Thomas

Sarah Thomas

The NFL’s First Female Official


Sarah Thomas changed the game in the world’s most quintessential male-dominated sport—football—when she became the first female NFL referee. Now she’s inspiring others to dream big and believe anything is possible. Read More >

Officiating her first game September 13, 2015 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans, Sarah’s hat, whistle, and flag are now on display at the NFL Hall of Fame and serve as a testament to this historic achievement. No stranger to being the first or breaking gender-barriers, she was the first female referee to ever work a major college football game, to officiate a bowl game and to referee in a Big Ten stadium.

Since her addition to the NFL's roster of referees, she has become a trail-blazing inspiration to women everywhere, embodying the notion that with a belief in self, inner drive, hard work, preparation, and a mindset of being the best you can be, no barrier or ceiling is impenetrable.

With the same unflappability that it takes to make a split-second call on the field, Sarah exudes equal confidence on stage as she shares key insights on overcoming adversity – and the odds – finding your passion while maintaining work-life balance, decision-making, and not only succeeding as a female in a male-dominated industry, but achieving breakthrough success for males and females alike. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Achieving the Impossible

Breaking Through

Speech Topics

Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve the Impossible

Drawing on her pioneering career path to the biggest professional sports league in America, Sarah Thomas extracts key takeaways from her journey that help men and women alike tackle challenges and come out on top. Sarah, who joins the pantheon of women who have reached the pinnacle and left their singular mark on history, inspires audiences with lessons on passion, preparation, and determination that can be applied to any field or industry, and to never give up on your dreams even when the odds are against you. Her story of becoming the first-ever full-time female official in the NFL is an underdog tale—one who goes on to not only win, but blaze a trail for others.

Breaking Through: My Journey to Becoming the First Female NFL Ref

Sarah Thomas is a woman of many firsts – she was the first female referee to ever work a major college football game, the first woman to officiate a bowl game, and the first to referee in a Big Ten stadium. She is also the first permanent female NFL official, and now she’s sharing essential leadership lessons from her journey to the top of a male-dominated industry and vital insights on shattering the glass ceiling in the world of professional sports that can be applied to any field or industry. As an exemplar of what’s possible if you believe, Sarah brings audiences takeaways on breaking through in your own career, from staying focused under pressure and creating change to managing work-life balance and being the best you can be.

How to Win When You’re the Underdog

Making it as a Female in a Male Dominated Industry

Work/Life Balance