Video: Female kicker signs football scholarship with D-II program
Watch kicker Becca Longo show what landed her a scholarship at Adams State.
Helping athletes reach the next level of competition is one of the jobs as a high school coach. This is the story of Becca Longo, and how she earned a college scholarship playing football.
Not many of us have had the opportunity to help a female football player make that move. How many coaches would even support a female player to play on their team?
Longo, a kicker from Basha High School in Chandler, Ariz., was recruited at Adams State University in Colorado. She accepted a three-part scholarship; talk about a talented young lady. She is receiving a partial football, partial basketball and partial academic scholarship at Adams State.
She played high school football for three years, and like most high school kickers has a strong youth soccer background. While at a club tournament in California, she kicked a penalty kick so far and high, that the parents mimicked football officials by putting their arms straight up in the air, indicating a field goal. She thought to herself, "I wonder if I could really play football?"
That thought, combined with inspiration from another young lady who played on her brother's team, Heidi Garrett (national record holder for the longest field goal by a female), compelled Longo to contact Basha High School football coach Gerald Todd. No female had ever played football at Basha.
"When Becca came out to kick, my first question was, ‘Can she kick?' " Todd said. "Special teams are very important to me and we had just lost our kicker to graduation. After going through spring ball, I was convinced she could handle the duties. But come Friday night and (with) 11 people rushing right at her, would she be able to be consistent?"
Longo is the first female football player Todd coached, though his brother Everett Todd was the Special Teams Coordinator at the University of New Mexico when Katie Hnida was on the team. Hnida was the first female to score in NCAA Division 1 football.
"He was hesitant about letting a girl play, but I won him over after my first day at spring (ball)," Longo said. "He lined me up to kick a 45-yarder after practice to get all of the guys out of running. After I made, it the whole team rushed the field and I think that is when I earned his respect."
Coach Todd gave her the green light to join the team, and she earned the starting kicker job.
"I love the pressure the most," she said. "I'm not like most people who would get intimidated if it came down to them in a last-second kick to win the game. I would be jumping up and down praying coach would let me kick it."
Coach Todd said Longo was treated as one of the players.
"She got along extremely well. She sweated, ran, and was at every practice," he said. "She participated in every event and never excluded herself from any task. She was a player."
About midway through her senior season, Longo started to send film to college coaches. Josh Blakenship, Adams State's offensive coordinator, was responsible for recruiting her high school. He was going to be in town, and wanted to meet her.
Coach Blakenship spoke about the recruiting process and how he viewed Longo.
"It always starts with film," Blankenship said. "Her film showed her abilities. After talking with her coaches and athletic director, I found out that she was a really good basketball player as well. This made our recruitment more of a possibility, financially."
He explained that multiple scholarship offers, especially for out-of-state recruits, mean a better chance of landing that athlete.
"I reached out to her by Twitter and phone to touch base and introduce myself," Blankenship said, adding he was also looking at two other football players at Basha. "I went by school in December to visit with her. My main objective was just to let her know about our admiration for what she was doing at the high school level, and to let her know that if she wanted to keep doing football and basketball in college, we would love to be a part of it."
They scheduled an official visit in February where she worked out for the Special Teams Coordinator.
"She crushed it," Blankenship said. "We offered her a football scholarship, and we got her hooked up with our basketball staff as well. They ended up offering her a scholarship as well."
Longo committed and signed her National Letter of Intent in early April.
"Coaching her was a joy," Basha's Todd said. "She was involved in our practice, she was there prepared and ready to go. I have to admit I was protective of her. I would not let her be in a situation where she was being hit or tackled. But a couple of times when she was hit or bumped, believe me she held her own."
Todd's willingness to give Longo a shot not only filled a void on his team, but helped a student-athlete move on to play at the next level. It's something to think about next time someone who you don't expect wants to come out for your team.Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.