Shenandoah’s Haley Van Voorhis shatters barriers as she becomes the first female non-kicker to play College Football

There have been a few female kickers to play in the gridiron but Van Voorhis is the first to play in outfield.

Shenandoah’s Haley Van Voorhis shatters barriers as she becomes the first female non-kicker to play College Football

Shenandoah University's Haley Van Voorhis creates history (Image via FOX)

It wouldn’t be surprising if nobody had heard the name Haley Van Voorhis outside of Shenandoah, Virginia. But after Saturday’s Division III game between Shenandoah University and Juniata College, she has become a national sensation. Van Voorhis created history by becoming the first female safety in NCAA history to play on the gridiron in college football.


She came on in the first quarter when Shenandoah was already 26 points up. Just after her introduction, she helped her team register a quarterback hurry on third down. They won the game 48-7.

“It’s an amazing thing,” Van Voorhis told the Washington Post yesterday. “I just wanted to get out and do my thing and wanted to show other people that this is what women can do, to show what I can do. It’s a big moment. I made the impossible possible.”

Van Voorhis, who stands at 5 feet 6 and weighs in at 145 pounds, was on the junior varsity team for the last two years. She is also part of Shenandoah’s track team as a sprinter.


In a 2021 interview with, she revealed her desire to play football at the highest level. “There’s definitely people out there who [think] this girl’s going to get hurt,” she said. Not only that, she claimed to have heard others say, “She’s too small, doesn’t weigh enough, and is not tall enough.”

But that’s not the case. Van Voorhis claimed she was neither the lightest nor the shortest athlete on the roster. A great achievement indeed. It was her hard work and dedication that paid dividends in the end.

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Haley Van Voorhis has the backing of her team

Breaking social norms takes time and effort. It’s hard for one individual to challenge that by themselves. So they need support, motivators, and people who stick by them till the end.

Shenandoah’s Haley Van Voorhis shatters barrier as she becomes the first female non-kicker to play College Football
Haley Van Voorhis (Image via Shenandoah University)

The story of Haley Van Voorhis is about overcoming the challenges that a woman faces in a world dominated by men. Football is generally regarded as the playing field for strong and testosterone-charged males. That has remained constant ever since the inception of the game. But as times change, rules and regulations also change, as does the dimension of the world of football.

Van Voorhis is able to step into that world because of her teammate’s support. Especially the coaching team and her family. Without their constant backing, a chance like this would probably never have arisen. But she made it because she possessed the skill and grit that one needs to be a football player.

“When you peel everything back, it’s about a young person who wants an opportunity,” Shenandoah coach Scott Yoder told ESPN in 2021. “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.”


There have been only a handful of women who have been part of Gridiron. Shelby Osborne became the first defensive back at the NAIA level in 2014 when she lined up for Campbellsville University. Moreover, multiple women have played as kickers in the past. Kirst Hinda appeared for New Mexico in 2003, and Sarah Fuller has the record of becoming the first woman to score for a Power Five team, playing for Vanderbilt in 2020.

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