Long gone are the days where the only opportunities for women on the football field were cheering at the sidelines or participating in the halftime show. Now, men are proudly working as NFL cheerleaders and women are working as referees, coaches and are even suiting up on the gridiron, at more elite levels every year. There have been women kickers joining collegiate football teams in the past, but Toni Harris made history this week for all the little girls out there dreaming of playing big-time football.
Harris became the first woman football player at a skill position (not a kicker) to sign a letter of intent. She accepted a scholarship to Central Methodist University in Missouri. Harris will continue her football career and play safety for the school.
— CMU Football (@CMUEaglesFB) February 27, 2019
Harris first made headlines in January 2018, when Bethany College in Kansas offered her a scholarship to play for the football team. She also made an appearance during the Super Bowl LIII broadcast this year when Toyota featured her in a commercial. She’s clearly hoping to, one day, be on the field during the big game.
Harris began playing football when she was just 6 years old in Detroit. Over the years, she’s played several different positions on both sides of the ball, including wide receiver and cornerback. She played football for Redford Union High School in Michigan. And, for the last two seasons, Harris has been playing safety at East Los Angeles College in California. She is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 164 pounds.
In Good Company
Harris follows in the footsteps of several other leading ladies playing football at the collegiate level. Becca Longo became the first woman to sign a national letter of intent at the Division II level last April, when she signed with Adams State in Colorado as a kicker.
Back in 2014, Shelby Osborne signed with Campbellsville University in Kentucky. However, Campbellsville University did not initially offer her a scholarship. She played defensive back and only later received a partial scholarship while enrolled at the school.
Meanwhile, in 2015, Jennifer Welter made history on the biggest stage in football by becoming the first woman hired to coach in the NFL. She worked coaching inside linebackers for the Arizona Cardinals during their pre-season training camp.
These trailblazers prove girls are here to stay on the gridiron.