PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - South Mississippi will be represented at this year’s Super Bowl in a history-making move for the NFL.
Pascagoula native Sarah Thomas has been announced as the Down Judge. Thomas will become the first woman to ever referee a Super Bowl matchup, but this isn’t the first time she has made South Mississippi proud.
The Pascagoula High alum is no stranger to glass ceilings but she is getting quite good at breaking them. She was the first full-time female referee in the NFL. She refereed her first playoff game in 2019, and now she’s set to make history once again.
”It’s so awesome to see Sarah Thomas go on and make strides and really break these glass ceilings and it is so great because she is such a good community steward as well,” said Pascagoula Public Information Officer Katarina Luketich.
Thomas has long been a point of pride for the Pascagoula community. She was inducted into the Pascagoula Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016 and has returned several times over the years for speaking opportunities and events, only helping to grow the community’s love for her.
”We are so proud of her and I think it is absolutely fantastic,” said Pascagoula resident Liz Ford. “It’s always nice to see someone breaking the glass ceiling.”
Her accomplishments are noted in several spots across town, serving as a reminder to young boys and girls that anything is possible.
”Growing up at school, we see her poster everywhere because she was one of the first referees at all, and now she is about to referee the Super Bowl,” said recent Pascagoula High graduate Jamie Dufault.
Thomas’ latest achievement is perhaps her biggest one yet.
”It makes you so proud when anyone from your community is doing great things, but to see a woman make such strides and make national history, that is really something that is incredible,” said Luketich. “We’re so proud of Sarah Thomas. And you hear the officials with the NFL say it’s not because she is a woman, it’s because she is good at what she does.”
Thomas was a referee in last week’s showdown between the Saints and Bucs and, while the result didn’t go the way many on the Coast wanted, it still made South Mississippians smile to see one of their own on the field.