Think there’s no place for women in college football? You’re wrong. There is no doubt that football is a male-dominated sport, but many women love the game just as much as men do and are just as talented. In the past few years, American Football has seen a surge in popularity among girls. Not only are more girls playing the game, but they are also making significant contributions to the sport as a whole. From throwing touchdowns to kicking field goals, girls are proving they can compete with the boys on the gridiron.

In addition to playing the game, women also take on essential roles as referees, trainers, and coaches. As a result of this increased involvement, girls are gaining confidence and developing essential life skills. While there have been some challenges along the way, the overall trend is clear: girls belong in national sports. These stories illustrate that girls can not only play football but also contribute positively to the game in various ways. As more women become involved in football, the sport will likely continue to evolve and become even more inclusive.

As a result, several women’s football leagues formed during the 20th century, including the National Women’s Football League (NWFL) and the Women’s Professional Football League (WPFL). Although these leagues were short-lived, they paved the way for the current crop of women’s football leagues, such as the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) and the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL). These leagues have provided opportunities for women to compete at a high level and have helped to grow the sport of women’s gridiron football.

Women Who Made History In College Football

A few impressive women have proven that they can compete with the best of them and are destined to make a name for themselves in the sport. Whether they are aiming to be quarterbacks, kickers, receivers, or linemen, these women have significantly impacted the game of football. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at these incredible athletes who paved the way for modern women in American Football!

Liz Heaston

On October 18, 1997, Liz Heaston made history by becoming the first woman to score in a collegiate football game. Playing for NAIA Willamette, she converted two extra points in a 76-0 victory over Portland Bible College. Heaston was a talented athlete who had previously played on the women’s soccer team. Her experience with kicking helped her to make an immediate impact on the football team. 

Heaston had initially joined the Willamette football team as a placekicker but had to sit out the 1996 season due to NCAA rules prohibiting women from playing football. Since her historic achievement, Heaston has remained active in college athletics. She currently serves as the director of operations for the Oregon State Beavers football team. 

(AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)

Ashley Martin

Ashley Martin made history on August 30, 2001, when she became the first woman to play and score in a Division I-AA (FCS) football game. A native of Jacksonville, Alabama, Martin was a standout athlete at Jacksonville State University, where she played football and soccer. On that fateful day in 2001, she made her debut as a placekicker for the Gamecocks in their season opener against Murray State. 

In the fourth quarter of the game, with her team-leading 28-7, Ashley Martin trotted onto the field to attempt an extra point. The kick was good, making her the first woman to score in an FCS game. While she would go on to have a successful career as a soccer player, her place in history was secure.  

While she wasn’t the only woman playing football at the time, she was the only one playing at such a high level. Her historic moment opened doors for other women to follow in her footsteps and pursue their dreams of playing college football. Today, numerous women are playing at all levels of collegiate football. Martin’s legacy continues to inspire young girls to take on new challenges, maybe all the way to the Super Bowl.

(AP Photo/Eric Jamison)

Katie Hnida

In 1999, Colorado’s Katie Hnida made history when she became the second woman to dress for a bowl game. This groundbreaking achievement paved the way for other women to pursue their dreams of playing football at the highest level. In 2002, Hnida transferred to New Mexico, making even more history as the first woman to score in Division I-A football. Her courage and tenacity are an inspiration to women everywhere, and her accomplishments will continue to encourage young women to pursue their goals.

Toni Harris

On Tuesday, February 5th, 2019, history was made when Toni Harris signed a letter of intent to play football on scholarship at Central Methodist University, making her the first female skill-position player to do so in college football history. The 22-year-old safety from Detroit, Michigan, has overcome many obstacles in her life to get to where she is today. Raised by a single mother battling cancer, Harris had to help take care of her younger sisters while also dealing with financial struggles. 

Despite all this, she still excelled on the football field, earning a spot on the All-City team in high school before playing at East Los Angeles College. Now, she is set to make even more history as she prepares to take the next step in her football career. There is no doubt that Harris is a pioneer in the world of college football, and she will continue to inspire young girls everywhere as she takes the field in the fall.

(AP Photo)

Callie Brownson

Callie Brownson made history when she was hired as an offensive quality control coach at Dartmouth in 2019, becoming the first full-time female NCAA Division I coach. Before her time at Dartmouth, Brownson spent two seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Lynchburg and one season as a graduate assistant at James Madison University. 

Brownson’s career took another significant step forward in 2020 when she was hired as Chief of Staff by the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. In her role with the Browns, Brownson is responsible for coordinating the team’s daily operations and helping to implement head coach Kevin Stefanski’s vision. Brownson’s hire is a significant victory for gender equity in coaching, and she is sure to inspire more women to pursue careers in coaching at all levels of football.

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas began her officiating career in 1996 when she attended a Gulf Coast Football Officials Association meeting. She played her first varsity high school game in 1999. In 2006, she was hired as a Conference USA staff member. In 2007, she became the first woman to officiate a major college football game, working a game between Memphis and Jacksonville State. 

After several years of officiating at the collegiate level, Thomas was hired by the NFL in 2015 as a full-time official. She made history again in 2019 when she became the first woman to officiate an NFL playoff game. Thomas is one of only a handful of female officials working at the highest level of professional football. Though she is often applauded for her groundbreaking achievements, she has said that she hopes someday “it won’t be news” when a woman is working an NFL game. Regardless of whether that day comes, Sarah Thomas will always be remembered as a trailblazer in the world of football officiating.

Modern Women Tackling the World of College Football

Did you know that there are women playing college football? You may not have known since, as a society, we tend to underrepresent and overlook female athletes. Female college football players play just as well as their male counterparts and often face the same challenges in gaining recognition. Though their male counterparts may outnumber them, these ladies prove that they can compete with the best of them:

(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Sarah Fuller

Sarah Fuller’s historic extra point against Tennessee made her the first female student-athlete to score in a major conference college football game and Vanderbilt University’s first woman to play in a Power Five conference football game. Wearing No. 32 and with her parents watching, Fuller’s extra point tied the game at 7 for the Commodores. This event broke barriers for women athletes and inspired young girls everywhere who dream of playing tackle football one day. It just shows that anything is possible with dedication and hard work.

This event was made possible by Title IX legislation which mandates that schools receiving federal funding must provide equal opportunities for male and female athletes. Before this legislation, women were primarily excluded from competitive sports. While there is still work to be done regarding gender equity in sports, Sarah Fuller’s historic moment is a positive step in the right direction.

“It’s just so exciting,” Fuller told ESPN after the Missouri game. “The fact that I can represent the little girls out there who want to do this or thought about playing football or any sport really. And [I hope] it encourages them to be able to step out and do something big like this.” – NCAA

Haley Van Voorhis

When Hayley Van Voorhis was attending Christchurch School, she made history by becoming the first girl to play football for the school. Located on the shores of the Rappahannock River, Christchurch is a boarding school that has been educating students since 1921. Until the Fall of 2012, the school was an all-male institution. In 2018, she tried out for the football team. She not only made the team, but she also became a starter at defensive back. 

Now a freshman at Shenandoah University, Van Voorhis is again blazing new trails as she becomes the first woman to play football at the university. While she may face some challenges as she adapts to the higher level of competition, Van Voorhis is proving that girls can compete with the best on the gridiron.

“I don’t even feel like there’s a girl on the team,” said SU senior Anthony Trammell, a Millbrook graduate, and fellow defensive back. “It feels normal, and it’s not any different having her here. She comes to lift, she works hard, and she makes plays.” – The Northern Virginia Daily

Delaney Hilferty & Alyssa Accordino

Delaney Hilferty and Alyssa Accordino are two of the few young women playing football at the collegiate level.  Hilferty and Accordino are helping to lead the charge as talented athletes who are passionate about the sport. Both women have overcome considerable odds to get where they are today, and their stories serve as an inspiration to other young women who dream of playing football at the highest level. Thanks to athletes like Hilferty and Accordino, the future of women’s football is looking bright.

In a game against Albright College, King’s College students Delaney Hilferty and Alyssa Accordino both kicked extra points to help lead the Monarchs to a win, 51 to 12. This was the first time in school history that two female students had scored in a football game. The game was a turning point for the team, who had been struggling in the season up to that point. It was also a proud moment for the college, which has been working to increase gender equity in athletics. As more young women play football, it is clear that no sport is off-limits to them. This victory for King’s College is just one more step in the right direction.

The NCAA Football Season Is About to Kickoff

The 2022 NCAA Football Season is just around the corner, and fans everywhere are eager to see their favorite teams again take the field. Some top teams to watch out for include Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. These powerhouse programs always seem to be in contention for the National Championship, and they will no doubt be looking to add another trophy to their collection in 2022. With so much talent on display, it is shaping to be another thrilling season of NCAA Football. So make sure you don’t miss a single down – the action will be electric from start to finish.

Add Some Fun to the NCAA Season With RunYourPool.com

The college football season is exciting but can also be a bit predictable. The same teams always seem to make it to the final four, and it can be hard to root for anybody else. But what if there was a way to add some more excitement to the NCAA season? That’s where RunYourPool.com comes in. RunYourPool.com is a website that allows you to create your own NCAA football pool. You can invite your friends, set up a bracket, track rankings, and keep track of everyone’s scores. It’s a great way to add some competition to the college football season. So why not add fun to the NCAA season by hosting your pool with RunYourPool.com?

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About Author

Brooke McKelvey

Brooke McKelvey is a Content Writer at RunYourPool and currently resides in Los Angeles, California. She has specialized in writing content in both the sports and healthcare industries. She loves to research new ways to improve her health and fitness, compose music, and can often be found with her nose in a book. She has an English degree from Randolph College and studied abroad at Reading University in England

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