PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A Coast native is making strides for female officials in professional sports. Pascagoula High School graduate Sarah Thomas has been hired by the NFL as a full-time referee, according to a report by Sports Illustrated.
Thomas started her officiating career at Pascagoula High. She broke into collegiate officiating in 2007 when she started working games for Conference USA.
She became the first woman to officiate a bowl game in 2009 when she worked the Little Caesars Bowl between Marshall and Ohio.
Thomas joined the NFL's Officiating Development Program last summer, worked some New Orleans Saints' training camps and officiated an NFL preseason game in August.
Thomas told NFL Network last year that she faced no resistance while climbing the officiating ladder, and she does not feel like a pioneer for female officials.
"I set out to do this and get involved in officiating not having any idea that there were not any females officiating football," Thomas said. "Being a former basketball player, you saw female officiating all the time, so no I don't feel like a pioneer."