Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hopes to guide his team to victory against the visiting Carolina Panthers in a chilly edition of Thursday Night Football taking place at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. The 5-2-1 Steelers are hoping to hold their spot atop the AFC North with a win against the 6-2 Panthers. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. Eastern, by which time the temperature in Pittsburgh is expected to be in the low 40s.
Tomlin has been the Steelers’ head coach since the 2007 season and is the 16th head coach in franchise history. A former defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, he was brought in to replace Bill Cowher when he resigned. Pittsburgh has reached the NFL Playoffs eight times in 11 full seasons under Tomlin, including winning Super Bowl XLIII after the 2008 season. Tomlin was named the 2008 Motorola NFL Coach of the Year.
Tomlin and his wife, Kiya Winston, have been married since 1996 and have three children together. Kiya owns her own clothing company called Uptown Sweats.
“Mom. Wife. Designer. Comfortable. Confident. Beautiful,” reads Kiya’s Twitter bio.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She’s a Morristown, New Jersey, Native & Always Loved Fashion Growing Up
Kiya Tomlin grew up in Morristown, New Jersey. She has been making clothes since she was four years old. At a young age, she loved clothes, but her small size prevented her from rocking the latest fashions. She asked for a sewing machine for Christmas and started to sew at age 11.
“I’ve been designing since I was 4 years old. I started sewing at eleven. That’s the age I realized I loved clothes. Unfortunately, I was the size of a 6-year-old, much too small to fit the fashions that I coveted. Ever the problem solver, I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas and taught myself to sew — with help from mom’s fuzzy recollections of her eighth grade home economics sewing project. After the required stuffed mallard duck project, I jumped right into fashion sewing. I taught myself a crude form of pattern making by mixing, matching and piecing together numerous patterns to collage my way to my own designs,” she wrote in a blog post back in 2016.
Kiya spent much of her childhood designing and sewing, making her own clothes and dresses. She made baby clothes and even made prom dresses for herself and friends.
While she loved fashion and design, she decided that she needed to further her education and getting a college degree became her focus.
2. She Attended William & Mary University & Married Mike 2 Weeks After She Graduated
Kiya enrolled at William & Mary University in Williamsburg, Virginia, where she was a gymnast and a pre-med student. While in college, she met her now-husband, Mike, a tall wide receiver for the school’s football team who was a year older than she was. The two fell in love and tied the knot just two weeks after Kiya graduated.
While studying at William & Mary, Kiya didn’t lose sight of her passion for fashion. She brought her sewing machine to school and made outfits for her gymnastics teammates.
“My college coach, she was pregnant one year, and I made all her maternity clothes,” she recalled.
3. She Re-Discovered Fashion Design While Mike Was Coaching at Cincinnati
Kiya was pre-med and Mike was pre-law, and Kiya thought that the pair were set for their careers. Initially, she thought Mike was taking coaching gigs to make money so he could pay for grad school. But after the job slowly became serious, Kiya realized that the medical field would make for a difficult married life.
“My understanding was that he was coaching so that it would pay for him to get his master’s degree, and he would then go get a real job,” she said in an interview. “Once I realized he wanted to coach, and what that all entailed, I realized that football and medicine really didn’t make for a happy family life.”
It was at the University of Cincinnati, Mike’s last job before the NFL, that Kiya dove into her calling. She registered at the University, pursuing a degree in fashion design at the school’s College of Design, Art and Architectural Planning.
On her blog, Kiya talked about the necessary enrollment at Cincinnati:
‘This chance opportunity to explore the world of fashion design beyond my home sewing machine was a blessing. It breathed new life into me; breath I so desperately needed after nearly suffocating as a childless housewife in small-town Tennessee and Arkansas for three years,” she wrote.
4. She Is a Mother of 3 & Doesn’t Talk Football at Home
Kiya and Mike Tomlin are the proud parents of three children, Michael Dean, born in 2000, Mason, born in 2002, and a daughter, Harlyn Quinn, born in 2006.
Back in May, the Tomlins’ oldest son, who goes by the name Dino, received an offer to play football at his parents’ alma mater. You can check out his Twitter announcement below.
Earlier this month, however, Dino committed to the University of Maryland.
Interestingly, Kiya didn’t grow up a football fan and she doesn’t talk football with her husband at home.
“I was not a football fan at all growing up,” she has said. “I did not watch football at all, understand it or care.”
Kiya is hands-off when it comes to her husband’s profession, and to this day doesn’t get too involved in Steelers happenings. When HBO was working on their documentary series State of Play, they reached out to Kiya regarding First Ladies in sports and her independent success. She declined twice but accepted after learning that Mike would hardly be involved in the project. Kiya conceded that when Mike comes home, the football talk ends.
“That’s how I protect Mike. Everyone wants to talk to him about football. I don’t think he should have to come home to it and have me talk about football,” she said.
5. Her Company, Uptown Sweats, Focuses on Modern, Comfortable, Custom Clothes For Older Women
Kiya started her very own company called Uptown Sweats. Mrs. Tomlin’s company is built around a sweatshirt dress, a look that is classy yet comfortable for women, especially moms, who want to look good on the go.
She launched her very first collection of dresses in 2014. They are versatile, machine washable, and Made in the USA.
“Inspired by the energy and aspirations of today’s modern woman, the namesake line was designed for women, like herself, with a purpose and passion for life. Uniting cover girl glamor with the comfort and ease of a favorite sweatshirt, her designs embody femininity, versatility, and the constant pursuit of the place where style, function and luxurious comfort intersect,” reads a description on the company’s website.
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