UHS Alumni Sophie Harlan Breaks Barriers as the NFL’s First Female Director of Operations


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Sophie Harland of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 to win Super Bowl LVI and become NFL champions, February 13, 2022, in Inglewood, CA. [Pictures provided by Sophie Harlan]

Sophie Harlan, a member of Ukiah High School’s Class of 2007, is now the first female Director of Operations for the NFL working for the Los Angeles Rams, the winners of Superbowl LVI 

Harlan told us as the Director of Operations for the Los Angeles Rams, she organizes the team’s travel. “Whether it’s setting up the travel or executing the travel during the season”, Harlan’s job is focused on all things travel-related to the team. Harlan also works to make sure the team’s training camps run smoothly and ensure that fans have a good experience. 

The most rewarding parts of the job for Harlan are “Having the highest highs like winning the Superbowl and seeing how much that meant to people as well as the feeling of pure happiness.” 

Harlan told us the difficult parts of the job include having no real offseason, which leads to her having limited time with family and friends. 

Harlan said she has not always wanted to work in sports. ¨I would love to say I have always wanted to work in sports, but that’s not the case.¨ 

When Harlan was at Ukiah High she always knew she wanted to go to college. “When I was little, I wanted to be an animal petter, it sounds rad to be paid to pet animals.” She also danced at Mendocino Ballet as a kid.

The Los Angeles Rams take on the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18 of the 2021 regular season.

Harlan graduated from Ukiah High School in 2007 and continued using her education at the University of California, Los Angeles starting her career with an undeclared major. ¨I didn’t know what to do and thought something in college would spark a career path.¨ She added that one day she, ¨walked into the football office and figured out something that I enjoyed.¨ Harlan graduated UCLA with a double major in History and Mass Communications. 

Harlan then moved back up to Northern California to follow her passion and worked at the University of California, Berkeley running their recruiting and operations. “I worked side jobs and night gigs waitressing to make ends meet.” But Harlan realized this is what she wanted to do with her life. 

Thinking back to what Ukiah High gave her, Harlan said, “A little bit of tenacity and grit at Ukiah High helped in college and then continued to help.” 

The Los Angeles Rams take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional round of the 2021 NFL Playoffs.

Being the first female Director of Operations for the NFL, Harlan describes that she’s lucky to work in an environment that does not care about gender and more about work ethic. 

She adds that “I hope that soon enough when there’s another female Director of Operations, it’s not as big of a deal, and when that day comes we will all be in a better spot.”

Harlan aspires to make “sure I’m being the best teammate and leader for our organization.”

To other Wildcats who inspire to work in athletics in the future, Harlan thinks “The best thing you can do is go to a college and work for your school. Every single University needs help, you probably get the advantage to handle things that you’re not used to or experienced for.”

Izzy Nickerson
Izzy Nickerson
Izabella Nickerson is an editor and chief for the UHS newspaper and a Junior at Ukiah High School. Izabella enjoys playing sports like tennis and volleyball, baking/cooking, and being outdoors. Izabella is creative and hardworking doing her part to make the UHS newspaper informative and entertaining. Izabella has been a part of the UHS news team for 3 years. She enjoys writing about the sports that students participate in at Ukiah High School as well as articles addressing women's rights and more. She would like to continue Journalism and make a career out of it. Becoming a sports journalist or a sports broadcaster.

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