(CBS NEWS) – Women have played college football before, but here’s the kicker (literally): They’ve all been walk ons. Never before has a woman been offered an athletic scholarship to play Division I or II NCAA football — until now.
During a signing ceremony at Arizona’s Basha High School on Wednesday, 18-year-old Becca Longo became the first woman to ever sign a letter of intent for a D-II football program.
Longo began kicking for her high school football team during her sophomore year. She then transferred schools and, accordingly, had to sit out her junior season. But Longo was back on the field for her senior season, during which she made 30 out of 33 point-after attempts and hit a 30-yard field goal.
That caught the attention of Adams State University head coach, Timm Rosenbach, who was the Arizona Cardinals’ starting quarterback back in 1990 when they were still the Phoenix Cardinals. Longo also reportedly captured Adams State University’s attention by sending them a highlight reel and following Rosenbach on Twitter.
“She’s kind of put herself out there to let everyone know she wants to do this,” Rosenbach told CNN. “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.”
Rosenbach seemed not to focus on the fact that his new kicker was a woman, nor on the fact that this scholarship offer is an historic first, just on the fact that Longo is a deeply qualified player.
Longo, for her part, didn’t know that she was poised to become the first female player to ever sign a scholarship for D-II NCAA football until her high school coach broke the news to her at Wednesday’s signing ceremony.
The devoted athlete will be playing both football and basketball at Colorado’s Adams State next year.