Nightly News   |  August 01, 2013

Sarah Thomas poised to become first permanent female NFL referee

After working her way up through Pee Wee, high school and the NCAA, mother-of-three Sarah Thomas ready to take on professional football. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports.

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>>> finally tonight, a lot of barriers are made to be broken. and a big one may be about to break in the nfl . that's if one woman who has been working her way up through the minors gets her way and makes her way to the pros as a ref. our report tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk.

>> reporter: being an nfl ref can be thankless. after any given call half of these big, sweaty guys may get very angry. refs take some serious heat. but sarah thomas still wants to be one of them.

>> there is a drive in me that says, i want to nail it. i want to work the perfect game .

>> reporter: thomas, a mother of three with a 7-month-old baby girl is on track to become professional football 's first permanent female ref. but being first hasn't been her focus.

>> if you are doing something because you love it and not doing it for recognition things just kind of have a tendency to fall in place.

>> reporter: part of the nfl 's development program , thomas may ref her first regular season game in 2014 .

>> we got the best players in the word. we got the best coaches in the world.

>> reporter: the 40-year-old ref has worked her way through up, peewee high school and ncaa. embraced on the field now she did get funny looks when she joined her brother at a clinic for aspiring refs.

>> i just kind of broke the ice.

>> reporter: football is a demanding game to officiate mentally and physically.

>> she doesn't just need to know the rules and make the calls sunny has to keep up with the guys, she has to be fit, fast, and agile, in essence an athlete too.

>> i see some of the women out there running, some look faster than the guys out there.

>> reporter: she passed a quick integrity test. i am a huge patriots fan, when you do make it to the nfl , i wonder if you could maybe do something for them, they're not going to be that good this year.

>> i am not hearing this lingo.

>> reporter: sarah thomas is ready to take the field. a man's game, but soon it will be a woman's call. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new orleans.