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19-year-old athlete makes history as first female non-kicker to play in NCAA football game

The 19-year-old received honors for both football and basketball in high school and made history with her exceptional talent.

19-year-old athlete makes history as first female non-kicker to play in NCAA football game
Cover Image Source: Instagram | @haleyvanv

Women are always considered to be in the backseat when it comes to sporting tournaments. However, many women are now fighting this stereotype and competing in male-dominated sports. 19-year-old Haley Van Voorhis became the first female non-kicker to appear in a college football game. Voorhis made history on Saturday when she became the first woman who was not a kicker or punter to appear in a NCAA college football game.


Voorhis who plays safety at D-III Shenandoah University came on with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter of her team’s 48-7 victory over Juniata College over the weekend. The 5'6 junior joins a handful of female athletes to have participated in college football including Katie Hnida—a placekicker who became the first female to score in an NCAA football game in 2003—as well as Sarah Fuller, per NCAA.


Fuller became the first woman to score in a Power 5 football game as the kicker for Vanderbilt back in 2020.  “I just think it’s incredible that I am able to do this, and all I want to do is be a good influence to the young girls out there because there were times where I struggled in sports,” Fuller said at the time, according to The New York Post. “But I am so thankful I stuck with it, and it’s given me so many opportunities. I’ve met so many amazing people through sports, and I just want to say like literally you can do anything you set your mind to.”


As for Van Voorhis, she is an athlete who has played a variety of sports all her life and excelled at it. She earned a 2019 Football All-State Honorable Mention and basketball MVP honors during her time at Christchurch High School. The teen is also the first girl to play high school football at Christchurch where she was named team captain. She is also a sprinter on the women's track team and plays a role in the 4x4 relay. This was her first year playing for Shenandoah's varsity squad.

"I want to show other people this is what women can do, to show what I can do. It's a big moment. I made the impossible possible, and I'm excited about that," Voorhis told The Washington Post on Saturday. University president Tracy Fitzsimmons called her achievement “an extraordinary accomplishment for women everywhere.” Fitzsimmons added, “I am so happy for Haley because she’s earned this. We always say we’re a place for opportunity at Shenandoah, and we proved it again today."


"What makes this particularly exciting is that Haley's accomplishment is not just a well-earned personal achievement, but also a victory for all women and girls," the university's president added in a statement. Shenandoah football coach, Scott Yoder believes that the young athlete deserved every bit of the accomplishment because she's been striving for it. "She has been working hard and it's great to see her take advantage of the opportunity she has earned," Yoder told NPR.


Back in 2021, Van Voorhis spoke to ESPN telling the outlet that she was used to people pointing out that she's the only girl playing football whether in school or during Pop Warner. "There's definitely people out there who see the story and think, 'This girl's going to get hurt,'" she said. "I hear that a lot. Or, 'She's too small, doesn't weigh enough, not tall enough.' But I'm not the shortest on my team, and I'm not the lightest."

Coach Yoder told the outlet at the same time that it was her sheer determination that motivated her to keep getting better. "What has really helped me has been when you peel everything back it's about a young person who wants an opportunity, who works for it and has earned an opportunity," he said. "For 21 years I've been fortunate to be on the coaching side of that. And at the core of this, it's no different."


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