Meet The First Woman To Win An NCAA Football Scholarship

by Lara Rutherford-Morrison

When Becca Longo signed her letter of intent to play football at Adams State University next year, she made history. The 18-year-old Arizona athlete is the first woman to receive an NCAA football scholarship to play for a Division II team or higher. She’ll be joining the Grizzlies as a kicker. And if you need another dose of Longo’s badassery, just check out what she’ll be doing when she’s not on the football field: Playing for Adam State’s basketball team. You know, no big. Just playing multiple college-level sports and shattering glass ceilings in the process.

Longo told ESPN that she signed her letter of intent to play at Adams State in Colorado a few weeks ago, but that she didn’t know that she was the first woman to receive a scholarship for NCAA football until her high school coach announced it at a signing ceremony last week. “I didn't know that until today,” Longo said at the time. “I'm still in shock from it. I'm just amazed.” (ESPN points out that about 12 other women have played college football, but Longo will be the first to play with a scholarship for an NCAA team.)

Compared to some college-bound athletes, Longo hasn’t actually been playing football for very long. She began in her sophomore year of college, but then had to take a year off when she transferred schools. She hit the football field again her senior year at Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona.

Longo told PEOPLE that, when she first started playing, not all of her classmates were supportive. “I got a lot of negativity, and people saying I couldn’t do it,” she said. “But that’s just what pushed me to do what I’m doing.” Her teammates and coach at Basha High, however, always had her back, and they supported her bid to play college football. “It’s just going to hang out with your best friends everyday after school,” she said of her teammates. “That’s what they are to me, they’re my brothers.”

Hopefully, Longo will have an equally good experience with her new team. Timm Rosenbach, head coach at Adams State and former quarterback for the Cardinals, told AZ Central that when he signed Longo, he wasn’t aiming to make any "firsts" happen. “I don't look at it that way,” he said. “My wife is a former pro athlete. I see [Longo] as a football player who earned it.” Rosenbach also told CNN of his new kicker, “She's got great mental toughness. She has to, if she's put herself in this position. By having that mental toughness, she deserves an opportunity right there to compete.”

Playing football and basketball at Adams State will undoubtedly be a lot of work, but Longo has shown tenacity in the past. When she injured her back, she refused to give up playing. “The doctors told me that I couldn’t play sports ever again and I just kind of like used that as motivation to prove them wrong,” she told ABC News. “I love both of my sports too much to just give up and I’ve spent so much time and money and effort just to just let it all go.”

Go, Becca!