HAYS, Kan. – Sarah Thomas is the first woman to officiate a major college football game, the first full-time female NFL game official and, in January this year, she became the first woman to referee an NFL postseason game.
Thomas will tell her story, “Breaking Through: My Journey to Becoming the First Female NFL Official,” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center at Fort Hays State University as part of the university’s Presidential Speaker Series.
Tickets are free but required. Fort Hays State student tickets will be available beginning Tuesday, Oct. 29. The limit is one ticket per person with a valid Tiger ID card. Tickets for the public will be available beginning Tuesday, Nov. 5. The limit is four per person.
They are available at the Memorial Union Student Service Center or by calling 785-628-5306. Tickets will also be at the box office, depending on availability, on the night of the presentation.
In 2017, Thomas described to Elle magazine a kind of accidental beginning to the chain of events that took her to a professional career in the NFL.
Ten years earlier, she was officiating at high school games but was barred from working even junior college games. Then an NFL scout saw her working at a high school championship game and saw something in the way she conducted herself on the field.
The scout, she said, connected her with a retired NFL referee who then got her into NCAA Division 1 football officiating. A year later, in 2007, she was officiating D1 football. She was on her way.
In her appearance at Fort Hays State, Thomas will share her insights on overcoming adversity and odds and “finding your passion while maintaining work-life balance.” She will talk about “succeeding as a female in a male-dominated industry but achieving breakthrough success for males and females alike.”
The Presidential Speaker Series is sponsored by FHSU’s Office of the President and by Fort Hays State students.