Meet Becca Longo – The First Female Recipient Of An NCAA College Football Scholarship

She is said to be the first female athlete in the nation to secure an NCAA college football scholarship. Her name is Becca Longo, and she is a senior at Basha High School in Arizona, who will soon be playing football and attending Adams State University in Colorado. It is an NCAA Division II school in Alamosa, Colorado.

While she is certainly not the first woman to play football with mostly men, she is the first woman believed to be playing at an NCAA school at the DII level or higher, making her achievement a small slice of history. And Becca herself had no idea about this until she signed the paperwork.

“I was completely shocked. Everybody who has it on video said my jaw dropped to the floor,” she told CNN.

Becca started playing competitively in her sophomore year as a kicker, and expressed interest in playing at a college level. She even started following ASU’s head coach on twitter and managed to catch his attention.

“She’s kind of put herself out there to let everyone know she wants to do this. If she’s able to compete at a level we think she’s able to compete at, we should afford her that opportunity to do that,” said Timm Rosenbach.

He also explained that it is hard to find good kickers, so Becca will no doubt be a welcome addition to the college team.

“She’s got great mental toughness. She has to, if she’s put herself in this position. By having that mental toughness, she deserves an opportunity right there to compete,” he said.

Becca was invited to visit the college in February, after the coach had seen her video, and received a scholarship offer soon after.

According to ESPN, Becca Longo isn’t the first female to even play football at a college level, but she is the first to do it on a scholarship.

“There have been about a dozen documented women who have played college football, but none of those who played for NCAA-affiliated programs were on scholarship,” wrote ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura.

Becca is only a few degrees of separation away from a few other women who have played at college level. Her high school football coach Gerald Todd’s brother Everett Todd who is now the defensive coordinator at Grambling State, was an assistant coach at New Mexico in 2002 when Katie Hnida, a kicker for the Lobos, became the first woman to appear in a Division I college football game, according to ESPN.

Her own brother Bobby was high school teammates with a woman named Heidi Garrett who hit a 48-yard field goal for King High in Riverside, California in 2004. It is believed to be the longest field goal ever converted by a girl in a competitive football game, and Becca says she looked up to her.

No doubt there will be many other girls now looking up to Becca, as she is part of a unique group of women in competitive sports across the US who are breaking a number of barriers. In her home state of Arizona, we saw Jen Welter officially become the first female NFL coach in 2015, for the Arizona Cardinals.

Then in 2016 the Buffalo Bills hired Kathryn Smith, making her the first full-time female coach in the NFL. In Major League Baseball, Justine Siegal became the first female coach, in 2015, and of course we can’t forget the NBA’s Becky Hammon, who became the first female pro basketball coach back in 2014.

With women in sports still battling for better sponsorships, equal pay, and less sexism in coverage that allows them to be portrayed with the same level of athleticism and professionalism as male athletes, young women like Becca Longo are an important part of the tide to change the landscape.

When the USWNT, who have won 3 World Cups (the most recent of which broke records for the most viewed soccer game in American TV history), still can’t get paid the same as the men’s team who are yet to reach any World Cup finals, let alone win 3, we know we have a problem that has nothing to do with ability, and everything to do with gender and perception.

A lot of the perception stems from the lack of visible examples and role models of women in all levels of sports, from competitors and coaches, to announcers and broadcasters. With gender equality being a major conversation at the Rio Olympics, it’s clear there is change happening.

Becca Longo’s scholarship to Adams State University is proof that it is possible, and when you put aside the female factor, her skill really does shine above all else. Her new coach Timm Rosenberg sees this too.

“It was like recruiting any other athlete. In Division II, we can see their workouts. To me, there is no doubt she can be competitive. She has a strong leg, and she can be very accurate,” he said.

As for Becca, she recognizes the magnitude of the opportunity, and is ready to tackle it head on.

” I was just so grateful that somebody believed in me and that I could actually do it…I’m going to go in, I’m going to be ready to compete. I’m not one to back down to anybody,” she said.

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