Shenandoah student makes history as first woman non-kicker to appear in college football game

History was made Saturday when Haley Van Voorhis of Shenandoah University became the first woman to appear in an NCAA football game at a position other than kicker.

“When the 5-foot-6, 145-pound junior from The Plains, Va., stepped onto the field on third and long to rush the Juniata [College] quarterback, she became the first woman who was not a kicker or a punter to play in an NCAA football game,” according to The Washington Post.

“Van Voorhis had waited for more than two years for the opportunity, and when it came, she didn’t disappoint. She entered the game in a special defensive package, and it was her role to push up to the line and blitz the quarterback. She got through and managed to hit Juniata quarterback Calvin German an instant after he had released the ball on what became an incomplete pass,” the Post notes.

“It’s an amazing thing,” Voorhis said after the game. “I just wanted to get out and do my thing. 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.”

Shenandoah University president Tracy Fitzsimmons, who was present for the game, was thrilled by Voorhis making history.

“It’s an extraordinary accomplishment for women everywhere. 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,” she said.

Of course, for Voorhis, playing against boys is nothing new. The Post notes that she’s been doing so “since she joined a coed flag football team in fifth grade.”

“She was the only girl on that team, and she has continued playing a game she has loved from the first day she stepped between the lines,” according to the Post.

She was reportedly also the first girl to play high school football at the boarding school she attended, Christchurch.

Her high school coach, Edward Homer, reportedly once described her as “a badass,” saying, “She’s not afraid of anything.”

Her coach at Shenandoah, Scott Yoder, has been equally impressed with her.

“Haley’s been a great teammate. She’s quiet and goes about her business. The guys respect her because she shows up and does the work on the field and in the weight room. She’s been a very positive member of our team. She’s very good mentally and understands her role. I have confidence in her that she knows her job and can execute it,” he said.

Regarding Saturday’s game, Voorhis only participated in one play. This, however, was more than enough for her parents, Chandler and Heidi.

“We’re just so happy for her. We know how much she’s put into it and how much it means to her. She’s worked so hard to accomplish her dream. They had told her to be ready to play, but that’s all. She was born ready,” her father told the Post.

As for what message she has for other young girls, Voorhis said, “I would just say, don’t listen to people who say don’t do it. Don’t be scared. Just go at it with everything you can.”

That said, Voorhis is facing some criticism on Twitter, where some critics have complained that she was essentially given special treatment on the field, and other critics have argued that women shouldn’t play in men’s sports.


In fairness to the critics, there’s been a lot of controversy about biological males competing against biological women, and so perhaps it’s understandable that there would be complaints about the opposite scenario?


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Vivek Saxena


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