COLUMN: Female football trailblazers are on the rise


IU football players line up on the scrimmage line Aug. 6, 2018, during practice at the football practice fields. Matt Begala

Editor's note: this column was edited for clarity.

In an era that emphasizes female growth and progress, society talks tirelessly about breaking the glass ceiling. From politics to music, women empowerment has been a major point of discussion lately.

But it is more than just congresswomen taking hits at this barrier to advancement. Some women are bravely breaking this ceiling with an out-of-the-box profession: football.

Last week, 22-year-old safety Toni Harris became the first woman skill-position football player to sign a national letter of intent.

Harris was kicked off of a childhood team due to her gender, but she did not let that stop her.

She was offered six college football scholarships but decided to sign with Central Methodist University, a NAIA Division I school. Harris was often doubted due to her size and athletic ability, being continuously compared to her male counterparts.

But with support of her family, dedicated coaches and an undeniable determination, Harris was able to make her dream of playing college football a reality.

Harris is not the only female football player who has been recognized in recent years.

Last spring, Rebecca Longo signed with Adams State University, becoming one of the first women to sign a partial football scholarship.

She has the ability to kick a 54-yard field goal. The average NFL kicker has a typical field goal range between 45 and 50 yards. If that does not scream girl power, I don’t know what does.

Many believe that putting women and the NFL in the same sentence is laughable. But, in recent years this male-dominated organization has become more gender diverse.

In January, Sarah Thomas became the first female referee at an NFL game. A ponytail sticking out of the white and black striped uniform might catch people off guard, but I think it’s inspiring.

Last year, Kelsey Martinez became the first female assistant coach of the Oakland Raiders. She is currently a strength and conditioning coach for the team. Additionally, Kathryn Smith became the first full-time female coach in NFL history in 2016.

Next year marks 100 years since the NFL was founded. After 100 years, there should be more gender diversity in the NFL. This anniversary should be a motivator to do more.

This Women’s History Month, it’s important to recognize women who are making substantial strides to create an equal society in an unconventional way.

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