CHANDLER, Ariz. — Becca Longo isn’t the first woman to play football.
But the senior at Basha High School in Chandler made history when she signed a letter of intent to play football at Adams State University, an NCAA Division II school in Alamosa, Colorado.
It’s believed that Longo, 18, is the first female to earn a football scholarship to an NCAA school at the Division II level or higher — something she had no idea of until a signing ceremony Wednesday at her high school.
“I was completely shocked,” Longo said. “Everybody who has it on video said my jaw dropped to the floor.”
Longo started playing football competitively her sophomore year. Knowing she wanted to kick in college, Longo sent video highlights to schools, including Adams State. She also began following Adams State head football coach Timm Rosenbach on Twitter, which got his attention.
“She’s kind of put herself out there to let everyone know she wants to do this,” Rosenbach said. “If she’s able to compete at a level we think she’s able to compete at, we should afford her that opportunity to do that.”
So he watched her film. Offensive coordinator Josh Blankenship then visited her in Arizona and expressed interest. Longo stopped by the university in February, “and I just fell in love with the campus,” Longo said. And in Division II, Rosenbach said, prospective student athletes can work out on campus.
“I kind of put the ball in her court,” the coach said. “She took advantage of that, and I was impressed, not only as an athlete but as a person.”
Shortly after that visit, she was offered a scholarship.
“I was so emotional. I was just so grateful that somebody believed in me and that I could actually do it,” said Longo, who will also play basketball at Adams State.
According to ESPN, about a dozen women are known to have played college football, though none under athletic scholarship. But Rosenbach said he wasn’t thinking about the historical aspect when he offered her a scholarship. It was her accuracy.
“It’s hard to find good kickers,” he said.
He added: “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.”
This past season, Longo connected on 30 extra points on 33 attempts and made her lone field goal attempt, according to MaxPreps.
According to Rosenbach, the kicking job is up for grabs heading into the season. And Longo sounds ready for that challenge.
“I’m going to go in, I’m going to be ready to compete,” Longo said. “I’m not one to back down to anybody.”