History was made in college football yesterday as junior safety Haley Van Voorhis took the field as the first female non-kicker to appear in a game. Van Voorhis found herself in on the action on the very first play of her career, hurrying the quarterback and disrupting the play.
This is the eighth time that a woman has appeared in a college football contest, but the first time that the woman has played any position other than kicker or punter. Van Voorhis has a rather illustrious football career in the past, all things considered.
The safety was an honorable mention for all-state in her high school playing days and she spent the last two seasons playing on the JV team at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. Shenandoah University is now the school that Van Voorhis is suiting up for on the varsity team.
The junior hurried the QB on the play: pic.twitter.com/0mW8K6WeDG
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 23, 2023
She entered the game with Shenandoah winning by 26 points in the first quarter, and the team would only grow their lead as the game went on, overpowering their opponent all evening.
After the game, Van Voorhis commented on how she felt after making history with her pass rush in the first quarter. According to the Washington Post, she said, “It’s an amazing thing. 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.”
Van Voorhis is no stranger to the fame and notoriety that comes with being a woman in college football. In 2021, she was approached by ESPN for an interview that is now resurfacing in light of her most recent accomplishment.
She told ESPN, “There’s definitely people out there who see the story and think, ‘This girl’s going to get hurt,’ 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.”
She hasn’t let those detractors stop her from trying to make plays on the football field. Shenandoah coach Scott Yoder also spoke to ESPN about the challenges of coaching a young woman in college football. To him, as long as she could play well enough to earn a spot, she was no different than any other player.
Yoder explained, “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. 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.”
Major news outlets will undoubtedly be following this story all year, though it remains to be seen if Van Voorhis will be able to win a starting job on the team. Either way, it’s an interesting story and a fun little underdog to cheer for in Division III NCAA Football.
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