BERGEN COUNTY, N.J.- “I used to play soccer for a long, long time and I just got tired of it”: On Thursday, Becca Longo, a former soccer player, became the first female to sign a letter of intent to play football at a Division II university or higher. Clearly, soccer’s loss is football’s gain. This fall, Longo is set to leave her Arizona home in favor of Adams State University’s campus in Colorado. She is its newest Grizzly. Although she is an Arizona Cardinals fan, Brandon McManus and the Denver Broncos were among the first to welcome her to the football family of the Centennial State:
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) April 14, 2017
Congrats @BeccaLongo on becoming the first female kicker to EARN a college scholarship. Welcome to Colorado!!!
— Brandon McManus (@thekidmcmanus) April 13, 2017
As she told me, after sending out her highlight reel, the offensive coordinator of Adams State came to her school, met her in-person, and invited her to visit the university on an official visit. She went and “fell in love with the school…. [She] really felt like everyone was so warm and welcoming and [she] felt like she really belonged.”
Including among the “really cool” (male) players on the school’s football team. Logistics seem to already have been figured out: Longo has a special arrangement to have a locker room separate from her male teammates.
Longo told me: “It all really started when my brother was 17 and I was 6… I just remember from my childhood always being in the backyard and throwing the football with him”. Their age gap was closed by the game of football. As it turns out, “[My brother] had a girl on his football team so every time I would go to his football games, I’d see her and I grew up being inspired by her”.
What’s next for the football standout? As a kicker transitions from high school to college, he/she must be cognizant of the fact that the goal posts will narrow. As a good chess player is, Longo is two-steps ahead of her competition, telling me: “I’ve been training with arena goal posts, which are even narrorower than college [ones].” Having already drilled a 50-yard field goal in practice, she told me that with the arena-width goal posts, she is “really working on … accuracy now.”
Surely her coaches approve of her work ethic. Longo told me that the head coach “has daughters of his own … one of them plays hockey. [She’s] super cool. She wants to play football also! Actually, all the coaches at Adams have a bunch of little girls. It’s really funny because they’re all so involved with the football team. All the players love them. They’re always at every single game on the sidelines. Super adorable”.
Since signing her letter of intent on Thursday, Longo has had some… interesting encounters within the walls of her high school.
The kick is good🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/c3vuJRx5d1
— Beccs (@BeccaLongo) April 14, 2017
“The day after [she] signed, a bunch of people at my school” were asking to take photos with her. Why now? Her classmates told her: “before you’re famous”.
Being “plastered all over ESPN”, having appearances on Good Morning America and CNN, and having countless articles written about her, with Longo’s newfound celebrity, she has “definitely” encountered Internet trolls. “I’ve had people tell me: ‘don’t look at the comments on this post’ or ‘don’t read these comments'”. Taking her own advice, she told me: “I don’t. I pretty much know what they’re saying. I just use that as motivation”.
When I asked about her signing’s effect on young girls, Longo replied: “I just want [girls] to do what they love, honestly. If they love football, then I want them to go play football. I don’t want them to be influenced by what other people say”.
While Longo pumped the brakes on setting her next goal (I asked her about her NFL aspirations), (with a laugh) she said: “I just got this goal … I haven’t really made a new [one] yet. So, I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to see in the future”! Longo plans to major in sports management at Adams State University.