EL CENTRO - American football official Sarah Thomas added to her trail-blazing legacy January 13 as the first female referee to officiate an NFL Divisional Playoff game.
According to a report released by CBS news, females make up only one third of the NFL’s employee base.
Sarah Thomas, born in 1973, has not let tradition or statistics prevent her from expanding her "first-of" repertoire.
In 2007, Thomas became the first woman to officiate a major college football game when the Memphis Tigers and Jacksonville State Gamecocks squared off.
Thomas topped herself in 2011, as the first woman to officiate a Bowl game during the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl (otherwise known as the Motor City Bowl) at Ford Field in Detroit Michigan when the Purdue Boiler Makers edged the Central Michigan Chippewas 51-48.
In 2011, Thomas became the first female to referee in a game at a Big Ten Stadium when the Northwestern Wildcats hosted the Rice Owls at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois.
On April 8, 2015, Thomas was announced as the first full-time female official in NFL history and made her NFL regular season debut on September 13 at NRG Stadium in Houston in a game between the Texans and Chiefs.
Thomas was also the first woman to earn an on-field assignment for an NFL playoff game and broke the mold on January 13 of this year at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts when she officiated during the AFC Divisional playoff game between the Patriots and Chargers.
Thomas’s achievements are most definitely praiseworthy and hopefully a prelude to the traffic-potential of a new path carved out of the quarry by a modern-day pioneer.