Summer Sanders – Then
Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders was winning medals back in the 90s. It didn’t take long though before she made the smooth transition to TV, commentating for both CBS and NBC and covering some of the biggest events in swimming.
Summer Sanders – Now
Even now, Summer Sanders is still a big presence in the world of sports, being a regular commentator at the Olympics. However, it’s not just swimming that Sanders has something to say about. She has also co-hosted NBA Inside Stuff and has even done coverage on the US Open. Recently, the former swimmer has appeared on a variety of reality shows such as Rachel vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off and Celebrity Apprentice. Sanders currently hosts HLN’s show Keywords.
Heather Cox – Then
Originally a talented volley player for the University of the Pacific, Heather Cox got all the qualifications she needed to become a top sideline reporter. In her heyday, she took part in the 1990 United States Olympic Festival, where she represented the National Volleyball Team. She also had success at club level, becoming a team captain for the Sacramento Stars. Upon retiring from the sport, she became one of the finest sportscasters for Fox Sports Net. She covered sports such a basketball, college football, and volleyball.
Heather Cox – Now
One of the most talented female sportscasters of the last few decades, Heather Cox has been a heavy player in ESPN, with some excellent work on college football, WNBA, NBA and professional volleyball. At the turn of the Millenium, Cox worked on Running with the Pac, while also appearing on CBS. These days, Heather Cox can be found on networks such as NBC and the NFL Network, where she works on Thursday Night Football as a sideline reporter.
Suzy Kolber – Then
One of the finest sportscasters of the late 80s, Suzy Kolber started at the bottom, working as a videotape coordinator for CBS Sports. She moved up in the world, becoming a producer in Miami for both WTVJ-TV and WPLG-TV. Kolber received unanimous acclaim for her work on TV, eventually winning a Sports Emmy at the 1988 awards. However, her resume doesn’t stop there. Kolber also worked for two magazine shows. It was here that she became well experienced as a reporter, producer, and director.
Suzy Kolber – Now
1993 was Suzy Kolber’s big year. It was the year that she finally joined ESPN, giving her a chance to cover events such as tennis tournaments, NFL and X Games. However, her time with ESPN only lasted three years, and she eventually jumped ship to Fox Sports. Then, in an epic turnaround, she went back to ESPN! Since then, Kolber has been a part of the network’s Monday Night Football program and is also the host of Monday Night Countdown.
Hannah Storm – Then
Some sportscasters need to change their name in order to become memorable enough. For this particular star, Hannah Lynn Storen just wasn’t going to cut it. Hannah Storm though; that’s an awesome name! Starting off as a radio DJ back in the 80s, Storm worked for WNDU-TV while studying at Notre Dame. Upon graduating, she began working for numerous radio/TV shows and ended up on WCNC TV 36. 1989 was the year that Storm became the first female CNN Sports Tonight host.
Hannah Storm – Now
1992 was the year that Hannah Storm made the swift transition from CNN to NBC. Throughout her career, Storm has covered just about every major sport. She has even been heavily involved with Olympic broadcasting. One of the most versatile sportscasters out there, Storm spent much of the late 90s hosting MLB games for NBC. The first female to host a sports event without a co-host, the history maker Hannah Storm has been a regular anchor on SportsCenter since 2008.
Pam Oliver – Then
Pam Oliver has been in the sports broadcasting industry since the mid-80s. Starting off as a news reporter for WALB upon graduating from Florida A&M, Oliver spent six years in numerous cities before landing her first sports reporter job with WTVT in 1991. Her job in Tampa took her career to the next level and Oliver eventually moved to Houston, working for KHOU-TV. However, it was in 1993 when Oliver hit the big time, landing a role on the biggest network – ESPN.
Pam Oliver – Now
The mid-90s was when Pam Oliver became a sideline reporter for Fox Sports. She has also done similar work for TNT; specifically, during the NBA playoffs. Unfortunately for Oliver, she was moved to the number-town broadcasting team for the NFL in 2014 and has been there ever since. What Pam Oliver seems to do so well though is going beyond the traditional sports journalism and delving into the deeper corners of athlete’s lives, as well as exploring their personal lives.
Bonnie Bernstein – Then
Starting off in Delaware as the sports director of WXJN-FM, it wouldn’t take long before Bonnie Bernstein hit the big time. Making a swift transition to Maryland’s WMDT-TV, Bernstein made history when she became Reno, Nevada’s first female weekday sports anchor. Her work on KRNV-TV ended up sending her to ESPN, where she was best remembered for being front and center of much of the Chicago Bulls’ famous 1996-98 winning streak. She also worked on shows such as Sunday NFL Countdown, SportsCenter and College Gameday.
Bonnie Bernstein – Now
By the turn of the Millennium, Bonnie Bernstein seemed to be everywhere, working on NFL games, as well as Westwood One Radio coverage. After leaving CBS in 2006, Bernstein returned to ESPN where she worked as a field reporter. However, the sportscaster was forced to get off the field after suffering from numerous health issues. These days, Bernstein works as the VP of Content at Campus Insiders. She is also the host of their show, so it’s safe to say that Bonnie Bernstein is still pretty busy.
Lisa Salters – Then
Originally the shortest basketball player in school history (5’2″) while at Penn State University, Lisa Salters became one of the most charming sportscasters in the game. Between 1988 and 1995, Salters gained her first experiences in journalism at Baltimore’s WBAL-TV. Some of the most gripping stories that Salters has covered over the years include the sports-related affairs going on during the Iraq War, as well as the O.J. Simpson case. She joined ESPN in 2000, where she became a general assignment reporter.
Lisa Salters – Now
One of ESPN’s most trusted sportscasters over the years, Lisa Salters has mainly worked as a sideline reporter on Monday Night Football. Other projects she has worked on include the newsmagazine E:60, and was even nominated for a Sports Emmy for her work. Many will recognize Salters from her role in Outside the Lines, which clearly demonstrated her ability to tackle some of the deeper sports issues. She has reported for some of the biggest events in world sports.
Greg Gumbel – Then
Before hitting the big time, Greg Gumbel spent his formative years as an up and coming sportscaster at WMAQ-TV. Seven years after starting there, Grumbel had minor success with ESPN, MSG, and even WFAN radio in New York. At the end of the 80s, Gumbel became an NFL/college basketball announcer with CBS. He eventually became the co-host of The NFL Today, while also covering NASCAR, the Winter Olympics, and MLB, amongst other things. He also covered both college and professional baseball.
Greg Gumbel – Now
1994 was the year that Greg Gumbel moved to NBC. He quickly began to report on a lot of the big MLB games. With coverage in the 1996 Summer Olympics and 1995 Figure Skating World Championships under his belt, Gumbel is one of those sportscasters who is one of NBC’s most treasured reporters. However, he did switch to CBS in 1998 and has since done announcing for NFL games. Humbel also hosted The NFL Today, but has since reverted back to play-by-play commentary.
Melissa Theuriau – Then
One of the most celebrated European sportscasters out there, Melissa Theuriau is a fan favorite in both her home nation of France and beyond. It seems like Theuriau has become something of an internet sensation, with many fans posting numerous videos compilations of the popular sportscaster. “I cannot explain it,” she said in an interview. “I am absolutely not seeking this publicity.” Theuriau studied journalism before becoming one of the most popular TV presenters in the whole of France.
Melissa Theuriau – Now
At one point in her career, Melissa Theuriau was the former anchor and co-editor in chief at Zone Interdite, the second most watched TV newsmagazine in the French-speaking community. In 2007, Theuriau launched the organization La Rose, an initiative that works with UNICEF to help give young women around the world a better education. Theuriau is one of those sportscasters who has been celebrated for her personal life. With husband Jamel Debbouze, they are considered one of the most popular couples in French media.
Jill Arrington – Then
Jill Arington worked for five years on the Main Floor as a producer, as well as on Paramount’s Real TV. However, this wasn’t before she graduated from the University of Miami back in 1994. It wouldn’t take long before Arrington became one of the most talented sportscasters out there, working for Fox Sports with a strong emphasis on women’s tennis. For one season, she co-hosted NFL Under the Helmet. She also worked as a reporter on the Pregame show of the Arena Football League.
Jill Arrington – Now
Jill Arrington is one of those sportscasters who seems to have been everywhere. She moved to ESPN after a successful stint with CBS. At the latter, she worked as a sideline reporter at both Southeastern Conference College Football games, as well as the US Open. At ESPN, Arrington has worked as a sideline reporter for prime-time college football games. After taking a hiatus to focus on her family, she returned to Fox Sports. Nowadays, Arrington works on KCBS-TV as the show’s anchor.
Brent Musburger – Then
Brent Musburger’s career can be traced all the way back to the 1960’s, working as a sportswriter for the famous newspaper, The Chicago American. It wouldn’t take long before Musburger became one of the most recognized sportscasters out there, working for CBS in 1968 and eventually focusing on the NFL. In 1975, Musburger started hosting The NFL Today. He covered a variety of sports in his heyday and to this day is regarded as one of the most influential reporters in CBS history. He coined the phrase “march madness.”
Brent Musburger – Now
Although Brent Musburger ended up getting fired from CBS, it didn’t take long before he found work elsewhere. Musburger’s next company ABC, gave him the chance to report on both basketball and college football. After the company merged with ESPN, Musburger spent much time reporting on Saturday Night Football. In recent times, the man who many consider one of the greatest sportscasters started broadcasting his own show, My Guys in the Desert, which is on the Vegas Stats & Information Network.
Craig Kilborn – Then
Working as a play-by-play commentator for the Savannah Spirits, Craig Kilborn developed a reputation as a talented anchor for KCBA. He eventually became the anchor of SportsCenter before switching to comedy, becoming the first host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. For three years, Kilborn was the face of this comedic political show, and eventually landed a hosting role on The Late Late Show. He is credited with making the show much more appealing to younger viewers.
Craig Kilborn – Now
Even since his work on both The Daily Show and The Late Late Show, Craig Kilborn’s reputation has spanned much further beyond sportscasting. In the last couple of decades, the reporter has become a fairly talented actor, starring in movies such as Old School, The Bronze, and The Benchwarmers, to name a few. Not only does he have his own show in the form of The Kilborn File, but he also was co-host of SportsCenter’s 25th Anniversary show. Kilborn has appeared on Workaholics and BoJack Horseman.
Chris Berman – Then
The man colloquially known as Boomer, Chris Berman started off on Hartford, CT’s WVIT-TV, working as a sports anchor during the weekends. Just a month after ESPN launched, Boomer joined the crew and for the network’s show Sunday NFL Countdown, Boomer was essentially the face of the show. For over 30 years, Chris Berman was the host and will be best remembered for his charisma and screen presence. With many iconic catchphrases under his belt, Boomer basically immortalized the phrase “He…could…go….all….the…way!”
Chris Berman – Now
One of the longest-serving sportscasters on ESPN, Chris Berman took the term longevity to another level. Not only did he host Monday Night Football for 10 years, as well as hosting Sunday NFL Countdown for over three decades, Berman deserves a carefree retirement when the time finally comes. In fact, he does take more time off to practice his golf skills. Nevertheless, Berman is still ESPN and NFL royalty and is considered a national treasure by sports fans.
Dick Vitale – Then
Known by millions as “Dicky V,” Dick Vitale was a basketball coach back in the 50s before turning to sportscasting later on in his career. After working his way up the ranks, Dick eventually got a big break, working as an assistant coach at Rutgers University for two seasons in the 70s. Things only got better for Vitale, who eventually became the University of Detroit’s head coach and later on, the athletic director. Although he had an unsuccessful season, Vitale managed to coach the Detroit Pistons at one stage.
Dick Vitale – Now
Although coaching has been Dicky V’s biggest passion over the years, he has also developed a reputation as one of the most talented sportscasters out there. Ever since joining ESPN in 1979, Dick Vitale is synonymous with basketball and in recent times, he is used to commentating around 40 games per year. Not only has he been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Vitale is also held in extremely high regard at the University of Detroit, naming a basketball court after him.
Dan Patrick – Then
It was back in the early 80s when Dan Patrick made a name for himself, working for both WVUD and WTUE. Also known as Dan Pugh, Patrick is best known as one of CNN’s most talented sportscasters, covering events such as the Winter Olympics, NBA finals, and the World Series, to name a few. He has also had a significant career in radio, having worked for the Ohio station WLVQ as well hosting part of Bob and Brian. He was the anchor of SportsCenter for over 15 years.
Dan Patrick – Now
It goes without saying, but without Dan Patrick, there simply would be The Dan Patrick Show. Ever since first hosting it in 1999, the show has traveled to many different networks, first starting on ESPN radio. These days, the show is available on national radio, NBC’s sports website and even on podcasts. During the 00s, Patrick hosted NBA Nation for a brief period and has been heavily involved with two Olympic Games. Patrick has also starred in numerous TV shows and movies.
Chris Fowler – Then
Chris Fowler has come a long way since his days on the sidelines reporting college football. After working for KCNC-TV in a variety of positions, Fowler eventually had a big break at ESPN during the mid-80s. He became the host for the Scholastic Sports America, as well as working on College Gameday. When Peyton Manning ended up losing the Heisman Trophy to Charles Woodson, Fowler didn’t like the way that Tennessee fans reacted to the moment, and got some flack after calling it a “trailer park frenzy.”
Chris Fowler – Now
Although the Heisman trophy incident dented his reputation somewhat, Chris Fowler swiftly apologized for his words and is still heavily involved with the Heisman Trophy presentations. Even though Rece Davies replaced him on Gameday in 2015, Fowler has still worked on ABC’s Saturday Night Football, as well as a series of college football matches. That’s not all though. Chris Fowler has added many other strings to his bow, commentating at horse racing events, tennis events, and the FIFA World Cup.
Bob Costas – Then
Often joked about for having a baby face, Bob Costas has never let the jokes get to him and has had a very successful career as a sportscaster. Costas got his career starting after announcing for the Syracuse Blazers. From here, he moved on to KMOX radio. It wouldn’t take long before Costas made another big step, this time to both the NFL and NBA. CBS came calling and Costas worked for them during the late 70s. He was famously the man who commentated during the Chicago Bulls’ 1979-1980 NBA season.
Bob Costas – Now
One of the most notable cameos that Bob Costas made was in the creators of South Park’s live-action comedy BASEketball. As for his professional career, Costas is known for being one of the most diverse sportscasters in the game, commentating in events from the boxing, NASCAR, golf, baseball and hockey industries. After being the host of NBC’s Winter Olympics broadcasting for over two decades, Costas ended up quitting in 2017, claiming that it is “better to leave before they drop hints.”
Bob Ley – Then
Bob Ley was one of the other sportscasters on our list who started off with quite the babyface. After interning at New York City’s WOR-AM, Ley got a big job, announcing for the former New York-based soccer team, The New York Cosmos. Just three days after ESPN started in 1979, Ley got a role and was a co-host for SportsCenter, which he worked on for a considerable amount of time. Ley has also developed a reputation for delving into some of the deepest, darkest corners of the sports industry.
Bob Ley – Now
Amazingly, Bob Ley is the longest-serving sportscaster in the history of ESPN. During that time, he has been involved with some of the most compelling stories in the network’s history, such as 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombings, and Pete Rose’s suspension, to name a few. Ley has received considerable acclaim for his work, winning a staggering 11 Emmy Awards. To this day, Bob Ley is still ESPN’s main anchor when it comes to coverage of soccer’s most important competitions.
Adams State’s Own
Becca Longo has for years proved that gender norms can be challenged, even in football. In 2017, she made history by being the first woman to break a critical glass ceiling, signaling a greater acceptance of female players in football. Becca currently lives in Alamosa, CO., a small town of 10,000 people located about four hours south of Denver, where she plays for Adams State University. However, the journey to where she is today wasn’t easy. How did she get there?
One of her greatest inspirations is her brother, Bobby. He is 11 years older than Becca and she has looked up to him as a role model since she was a little girl. As she was growing up, she tried to be just like him, or even be better. One thing that stood in her way of outdoing him, however, was that he was a linebacker for his school’s football team. Due to the sport being physically demanding, it’s usually classified as a boys’ sport.
One Day In 2004
However, in 2004, Becca witnessed young Heidi Garrett hit a 48-yard field goal, which is a national record for longest field goal kicked by a woman in high school. As Becca watched Heidi at the party at the end of the season, she knew she had found her role model. She wanted to be just like her, but she was still little and football wasn’t an option for her age. In time she would prove herself, though.
Same Old Mindset
For years, Becca excelled in traditionally women’s sports, setting aside her fond memories of football pads smashing together, the dull thunk of the football being kicked into the end zone, and the electrifying energy on the football field. She played as a point guard in basketball, while her strong right leg made her a force to be reckoned with in soccer. Despite this, the more physical, more dangerous sport of football was calling her, even if she didn’t know it yet.
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At the end of her Freshman year at Queen Creek, Becca was walking home with a friend and saw the school’s football team practicing. She noticed that not one of the players on the field was a girl, which frustrated her. Anything a boy can do, she could do, too. She decided she was going to do something about it. She immediately told her friend that she intended to kick a different ball. That night, she informed her father that she intended to kick for Queen Creek.
A Supportive Father
When her father heard, he voiced no question or concern. He knew his daughter, a natural athlete, wasn’t just competitive, she was extraordinarily so. It made perfect sense for her to take up a challenge that would seem impossible to others, such as a girl playing football. When asked to recall what motivated her to challenge these stereotypes, Becca later told ESPN: “I think it’s just something inside of me. I don’t always have to prove myself — but I always want to.”
Dream Come True
When Bob Longo knew this about his daughter, so when he heard Becca say she wanted to play football, he recalled Heidi and her father, Rance, practicing on the field for hours, spending quality time together. Bob said, “I always envied them. They had a great father-daughter relationship. I hoped that one day I’d have the same connection with Becca.” As it turned out, his wish had come true and he would have the same connection.
For young girls looking up to her for inspiration, Longo said, “I just want to let people know that you can do whatever you want. As cliche as it sounds, nothing is impossible. I had a little girl the other day, her name is Kennedy, who lives up in Kentucky, do a wax museum of me … my jersey and full pads, find it on my Instagram. I cried. That’s the impact that I’ve always wanted to have on people That I can do it, it’s insane.”
A week later, Becca’s parents took her to a kicking camp hosted by the Arizona Cardinals at Gilbert Christian High School some 20 minutes away. Some NFL players even showed up to watch the next generation of kickers. No stranger to pressure, Becca impressed those watching her, despite never having kicked field goals before. Former players approached her after the camp to offer to train her, but she and her father wanted to work with former University of Arizona kicker Alex Zendejas, who runs a kicking academy in Phoenix that has taught seven Arizona All-State kickers.
“She Has The Leg”
Zendejas was impressed when he saw her. “She has the leg. She can kick field goals from 50 yards,” he said. “She can open up the door for a lot of girls out there who want to kick. Because I think soccer is already out there for girls sports. When you have a strong leg … I would like to see more girls take advantage of the kicking game, whether in high school, college or Pop Warner.”
Not So Encouraging, But Not Negative
Zendejas only needed to see her once to know she had the potential to be a future star. The talent was there, all she needed was to stick to it. The next day, Paul Reynolds, Queen Creek’s athletics director, got a visit from Becca, who told him she wanted to play football. Reynolds laughed and said, “I guess you should go for it and try out for the team.” Not the most encouraging message, but definitely not a negative one. Moreover, the director’s laugh motivated her.
Becca passed tryouts and made it into Queen Creek’s Junior Varsity team for her Sophomore year in high school. During her first season, she made 30 out of 33 extra point kicks after the team scored and went four for four on field goals, her longest being 30 yards. Unfortunately, she still stood out even with a helmet on, which isn’t always the best thing in high school. When she wasn’t playing football, bullies saw her as a target, just because she was different.
Dealing With Bullies
On the field, she was a star, but intramural sports aren’t the only thing in high school. Kids in this age group are especially prone to picking on those who stick out for being different, which is what happened when they saw a girl playing football — even if she was a good kicker and one of the best players on the team. “They’d post pictures on the internet and say, ‘Is that her jersey or her boyfriend’s?'” Longo told the media. “I got laughed at the entire year.”
Taking Matters Into Her Own Hands
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” Friedrich Nietzsche once said, and the experience taught Becca just this. She became a more well-rounded person thanks to her experiences in Queen Creek. That being said, she knew that she needed a change because the environment she was in was unsupportive of her dream. She took matters in her own hands and decided to transfer to a school 20 minutes down the road that is called Bash High School.
Honing Her Skills
Becca felt right at home in her new school and was thrilled to begin playing for them. Unfortunately, due to transfer bylaws, she was not allowed to play for her Junior year. This wasn’t ideal for the up-and-coming kicker, but she was patient. She worked hard, honing her kicking skills as part of the team and waiting for the opportunity to come for her to prove how good of a kicker she was, regardless of whether she was a boy or a girl.
By her Senior year, Becca’s hard work paid off, as she started as Bash High’s kicker. After a year on the sidelines, she was finally ready to prove herself as a player. For the 2016 season, Becca got in 35 out of 38 free points, with the missed being blocked kicks that are out of the kicker’s control. She proved to everyone that she belonged there by excelling. She was Becca Longo, an integral part of the team who was doing outstanding work as a kicker for her high school.
Attention From Scouts
Regional college sports recruiters began taking notice of her. Granted, she wasn’t predicted to be the next Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens, but she was good and had proved that she could rise above challenges others wouldn’t even face. She and her father made a video of highlights from her two years kicking that attracted the attention of Josh Blankenship, Adams State’s offensive coordinator. Blankenship invited her up to Adams State, a Division II school, for a tryout that she aced, sinking in 23 of 25 field goal attempts.
After her impressive display of raw talent, Adams State offered Becca a scholarship. She later told CNN: “I was completely shocked. Everybody who has it on video said my jaw dropped to the floor.” Women had challenged gender stereotypes in football long before her and kicked in field goals, yet this was different. Believe it or not, this was actually the first time in NCAA history that a female player was offered an athletic scholarship for football on the Divison II or I levels.
Impressing The Coach
Timm Rosenbach, at the time Adams State’s head coach, was secretly watching Becca’s tryout and was extremely impressed with her braving the freezing cold and the ferocious wind. “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.” He later told ESPN, “I don’t care if the player’s a Martian…the gender part wasn’t really a factor to me.”
“Becca Can Play, Simple As That”
Rosenbach, a former NFL quarterback before he became a coach, sums up his football philosophy as follows: “If you can play football and you have determination, I don’t care what your gender is. And Becca can play, simple as that. She’s got accuracy and she’s got a powerful leg, which will only get stronger. We brought her to Adams State for a reason: to compete for a job and help us win football games.”
Perseverence Pays Off
“I don’t know how many people told me I couldn’t play football and I should stop and give up,” Longo told the Associated Press earlier in 2018. “I look at where they’re at now and where I’m at. I mean, had I listened to them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I get a lot of messages asking for advice and I say the same thing: ‘Don’t stop because somebody tells you you’re not qualified or you can’t do something.'”
One Of The Team
Coach Rosenbach summarized to Bleacher Reports that “Becca is a football player. That’s it.” Indeed, that is the exact message he told his team when she joined. “You will treat her like any other teammate and welcome her on to our team.” Becca soon proved herself, telling USA Today that “Everybody was just so warm and welcoming. Quarterback Jorge Hernandez said, “She gets after it just like all of us. She’s not just here to be on the team. She’s here to play.”
Welcomed With Open Arms
When she arrived, however, Longo was happy to see that any misgivings she had about being accepted were unfounded, as she was welcomed by the rest of the team as one of their own. “I was basically their sister. And I love them to death and I’m never going to forget them. They’re my brothers,” said Longo. “They are the ones who lifted me up when I was down. I had all their support in me.”
Haters Gonna Hate
Despite the show of support among the team, Longo is no stranger to being criticized by online trolls and bullies, having endured it for years. When asked about the online jeers and insults she receives, she told ESPN, “If they want to think that, they can think that. I’m just going to kick a game-winning, 55-yard field goal … see how loud they are then. I’ve been doubted in everything I’ve done. Being mentally strong is the only defensive mechanism I have.”
It is thanks to her positive attitude that Becca has gotten so far. Instead of letting the naysayers influence her negatively, she focuses all her energy on improving. She reaped the fruits of her hard work when she accepted an athletic scholarship to a Division II school, the first time in history that a woman had been selected for one. Although she is a trailblazer, she is not the first woman to break the mold and challenge gender discrimination in football.
Standing On Shoulders
The first time Becca kicks off, she will be following in the footsteps of pioneering trailblazers that came before her. The first woman to score at the Division I FBS level was Katie Hnida in 2003. The first woman to score in Division I in general was Ashley Martin in 2001, who is pictured here on the right, in the middle. That being said, Becca represents a new era, when we will expect to see many more women on the football field.
It seems, though, that one of the firsts in modern times belongs to Liz Heaston, who was the first woman to score in a college football game in 1997. She played soccer and was a star player for Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. As far as her football career goes, she was a replacement kicker for the team. She kicked two points in a game against Linfield College, which they won 29-0. This attracted the media and, in turn, her interviews exposed her to the broader population.
Inspiration To Girls Everywhere
Becca Longo isn’t just part of some public relations campaign undertaken by her school by letting a woman walk on the field and kick a field goal; she was selected specifically for her talent, inspiring girls everywhere. Her message for aspiring girl athletes is clear, as she told ABC’s Good Morning America: “If they want to play football, go out and play football. If they want to play hockey, they can go out and play hockey.”
Nods From Other Trailblazers
Jennifer Welter, a former indoor football player who was the first woman to intern as an assistant coach for the Cardinals, praised the young athlete. “It’s amazing to see Becca kicking down doors and for all of us who have been in the game,” she said. “We walk a little taller, we definitely clap a lot louder, scream a lot louder, knowing that she has this world and so does every other girl coming after her. Every single one of us is pulling for her every single day.”
It Runs In The Family
Sports have been part of Becca’s life since the very beginning. She was born in 1999 to a family of athletes and took after her other family members by displaying a natural knack for sports. By the age of four, for example, she was on water skis. By the age of nine, she was kicking soccer balls accurately in goals. Her natural athleticism, coupled with the supportive atmosphere she was raised in, nurtured her development as a sportswoman.
Minor Setback Before Triumphant Return
Unfortunately, we will need to wait before seeing Becca Longo break barriers by kicking for the first time in a game. An unexpected injury is causing her to miss much of the 2018 season. Instead of her cleats, she was seen on the sidelines wearing an orthopedic brace boot. However, if her previous history of coping with setbacks tells us anything, she will come back even stronger than before. Before we know it, she’ll be getting her big break on game day.
Injuries take time, and she needed surgery last year to get better. Earlier in January, she posted on Instagram about her improvement. “10 weeks post-surgery and you can definitely tell which ankle was injured,” she wrote. “I am ahead of schedule though that is for sure! Ran today for the first time since September and let me tell ya.. my lungs hurt!! I just want my muscle back alreadyyyyyy! Sorry guys no box jumps for a while.” Only a few weeks later, doctors cleared her to kick.
Even though Longo remains positive, there’s a lot of work to do before she’s 100%. “I tore some tendons in my ankle,” she said. “My plant foot. I went to go plant in the ground and my foot kept going and it just kind of snapped… I tried kicking again but I was not having it.” Unfortunately for the brave Longo, she will need to wait until the 2019 season to compete again. The good news, though, is that it’s right on the horizon!