Sophia Lewin’s Goal is Clear: To Be National Football League Head Coach

By Steve Sears

Sophia Lewin (left) with Princeton Tigers head football coach, Bob Surace (credit: Jared Montano)

Sophia Lewin ponders the painful memory.

January 23, 2022, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs facing off in a hotly contested, tight National Football League divisional playoff game. 

“I just remember how instant it was,” Lewin says. “Everything was just stripped from us in a minute, and it was so sudden, it was so instantaneous, and really sad. It was just like a drop, a terrible sinking feeling.” Lewin speaks of the Bills 42 – 36 loss to the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs in overtime. She, an assistant coach with the Bills offense, was in the coaching box that night. The Bills had battled back to take a 36 – 33 lead with :49 left, only to have the Chiefs knot the game on a field goal with :13 seconds left in regulation, and win it with a touchdown with the first possession in overtime. “Obviously, when reflecting, you’re able to learn from it, but it was just one of those things where in the moment it felt like the worst. You just feel for the guys, and that plane ride home was something else. I would just say it was an instant feeling of like a gut punch.”

Enough about that frigid Kansas City evening, and more about Lewin, who currently is a Quality Control Coach, and assists head coach Bob Surace while also lending a hand with special teams, for the Princeton University Tigers football team. 

Heading into her junior year at Wayne Hills High School, Lewin met with her guidance counselor to fill out a schedule for desired classes for her senior year. “At the top of the form,” she says, “it asks you what you want to do professionally, and I put ‘professional football coach.’ Fast forward, Lewin and Surace have discussed it. “He asked me what my goals are, and I told him, ‘To be an NFL head coach,” Lewin explains. “He has mapped out a plan for me, and I know what that plan is and it’s growing, and the reason I am back with him is he has a plan for me to reach the goals that I have, and he has believed in those goals just as much as I believe in them. Absolutely, I see myself as an NFL head coach one day.”

“I don’t really remember a time in my life where I didn’t want sports,” Lewin says. Her father when she was very

Sophia Lewin. Buffalo Bills Week 13 practice, December 3, 2021. Photo by Bill Wippert

young propped her up with pillows, and the duo would roll a ball back and forth, and eventually play catch. “I’ve been playing catch with my dad ever since. I feel that the greatest gift in my life is sports, so football was very much a part of that from the beginning, as well as hockey and baseball and basketball. I don’t really think there was a starting point other than right from the very beginning. Some of my first memories are of watching football, and then I was a football player for Halloween when I was five or six. It’s just always been a part of my life, I’ve loved it, and football season is my favorite season. It’s always been really special for me, and I feel so fortunate that I get to be a part of it and I get to call it work.”

Her involvement with football teams began in high school. Wayne Demikoff was taking over as Wayne Hills Patriots head coach, so she met with him. “We discussed what the role for me would be with the team as manager,” Lewin recalls. “I’d be in meetings, but that role sort of expanded because I was so curious and wanted to be around all the time. I got to do loads of different things with that program because of coach Demikoff and the belief and support that he had for me.”

After Wayne Hills, Lewin was a student assistant for the Monmouth University Hawks for four seasons (“I was with the quarterbacks for a year and then was with receivers for the next three years,” Lewin says), spent a season as wide receivers coach at Jersey City’s Hudson Catholic High School, and then headed for the National Football League, where she helped coach the tight ends for the Bills before heading back to Princeton.

Lewin speaks lovingly of her parents. “I think it’s sometimes really difficult for people to understand how I got the job with the Bills, and for me it’s very simple. I’m nothing without my parents. My father instilled a love for sports in me, but also the discipline and the hard work. All of those core values that make me good at my job come from my dad. And then my mother has supported me in a way that’s unconditional. The best part is being able to share my love and passion for the sport with the people that have helped me the most. They both love me unconditionally, and I think that’s a huge part of my success.”

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