The Kickass Female College Football Player You Need to Know

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Fall Saturday afternoons mean one thing across much of the country-college football. Nearly a quarter of American women call themselves fans, according to research firm Mintel. But ladies aren’t just participating on the sidelines. Last month, Kent State University senior April Goss became the second woman in history to score in an NCAA Division I game when she kicked an extra point to help her team defeat Delaware State University, 45-13. “It felt amazing,” says Goss. Her teammates-who she calls her best friends-raised her up on their shoulders and embraced her on the sidelines. (Meet 11 Talented Young Athletes Dominating the Sports World.)

Goss’s trip into pigskin history started when she was a sophomore at Hopewell High School in Aliquippa, PA-about 26 miles from Pittsburgh. She’d played soccer throughout her childhood, but decided it was time for a new challenge. Football seemed exciting and fun; after all, Goss grew up watching the Steelers with her family. “Growing up with this city and the success that they’ve had over the years is exciting, and that drew me to the sport,” Goss says.

With the help of her dad, who was a punter on his high school football team, Goss started to practice kicking the oblong ball. She wasn’t really serious about it at first, she says, but she gradually started to think, “I don’t really know what’s stopping me from pursuing this.” So she kept building the skills she’d need to prove she was field-worthy. “I practiced for a good couple of months before I told my coach that I was interested in joining the team,” Goss says. Junior year, she said goodbye to soccer and secured a spot on the football roster. (Find out Why More High School Football Teams Are Embracing Female Athletes.)

Not everyone thought it was such a smart idea. “Playing in high school, that wasn’t something that was very common in my area,” says Goss. “There were girls that had done it, but not a lot.” Goss’s dad worried that her male teammates might bully her or hurt her on purpose-she says he was “just being a dad”-but she convinced him it was worth a shot.

Goss made the team, and the guys she’d previously known as classmates, not teammates, didn’t mess with her. In fact, at first, they kept their distance too much. “They were very standoffish, and I was really confused by that,” Goss says. However, as they realized she was serious about kicking, they gradually stopped acting distant. But there were other adjustments to get used to, like the fact that the guys farted in front of each other all the time, and during one JV game, the opponents smirked when they saw a female on the field. But Goss found that she thrived in the fast-paced environment of football, and in her two years on the team, Goss scored eight points. (These 18 Women In History Have Changed the Health and Fitness Game.)

As Goss looked at colleges, she knew she wasn’t ready to hang up her jersey. “The game in general, it’s exciting, it’s thrilling; anything can happen at any moment,” says Goss. “But for me it was challenging, something I’d never done before and that every day gives me something to work towards.” Once she decided on Kent State-a school she was drawn to for its program in criminal justice-Goss immediately started researching the football program, doing recon on how tryouts and practices worked and the process for walking on.

The summer before her freshman year, she contacted the football office and told them she was interested in a tryout. She’d be the first female to ever land a spot in the Kent State football roster. “I remember meeting Coach (Darrell) Hazell, who was my first coach here at Kent, the very first day I went into the office, and he didn’t really know why I was there at first,” says Goss. “He introduced himself to me and walked out, and then when he walked back in, he realized that I wanted to try out for him.” She told him about her experience in high school, and he asked for some tapes of her kicks. Several months later, during the spring semester, Goss was given the tryout that earned her a place on the team.

The players at Kent State were much more accepting than her high school teammates. “When I came to college, I was expecting them to kind of be the same way, to give me a hard time or really expect me to prove myself and show them my experience, but from the get-go, they were extremely respectful, polite, and accepting,” she says. She does get her own locker room to change in before games, but since meetings take place in a team meeting room separate from the locker rooms, she doesn’t miss out on anything important. However, her teammates have helped her develop a thick skin for friendly trash talk: “They’re guys and they get at each other; they pick at each other and make fun of each other and then just let it go instantly,” she said. “Where I would come back the next day like, ‘you know, I’m really mad that you said that’ and they would be like ‘I don’t even remember what I said.'”

Goss has also bulked up at Kent State, adding about 15 pounds of muscle to her 5’6” frame. She’s never been injured from a tackle, but when you’re on the same field as 300-pound linemen, size is your friend. Although she’s never lifted more weight than her teammates, she has bested them on some other exercises. In one winter training exercise, where players hang a towel over a pullup bar and hang from it to improve grip strength, Goss is among the top performers. “It makes me feel really good when I beat any of my teammates. It’s like beating your older brother in something,” says Goss. “It’s also an encouragement thing to those guys too. I shouldn’t be beating you in these things, so it means you’re not working as hard.”

Throughout her career, Goss has faced haters who have told her it wasn’t possible to play on the gridiron. “Even if people didn’t tell me I was crazy or couldn’t do it-which they did-I kind of saw it in their eyes,” says Goss. “It was tough, very tough, but it was probably the thing I needed because it showed me I don’t need to rely on other people, for them to believe in me, that it just mattered that I believe in myself.” She says she is occasionally heckled by fans on the opposing teams, although her male teammates aren’t safe from that, either. Her tenacity shows-Goss regularly stays late after practice to refine her kicks.

She isn’t the only woman making waves in what’s been traditionally regarded as a man’s game. Jen Welter made history this year as the first woman on an NFL coaching staff, and the NFL Announced It’s First Female Referee in addition to naming Elizabeth Nabel Its First Chief Medical Officer. And Goss has her own advice for women who want to get in the action, or achieve any out-of-the-box goal: Anything that excites you but also scares you is the very thing you should go after, because it’s going to be the most fulfilling thing you can do. And don’t worry what other people say-or imply. “At one point in time, I was the only person that believed in myself-it was extremely challenging, but it helped form me into the person I was,” she says.

All those hours on the field will pay off during the next phase of Goss’s career. A criminal justice and psychology double major, Goss is graduating in December and plans to attend graduate school for mental health counseling. “I think the fact that I have overcome a lot of obstacles in my life has helped me realize I can pretty much do anything I set my mind to,” she says. “I know that no matter what’s in front of me, I will find a way to get over it or get through it.” (Want more? Get-Fit Tips from Fierce Women in Football.)

Until then, Goss is looking forward to the games ahead-there are six left in the regular season. She’d love the opportunity to score again. “Coach says anything could happen, so just be ready. That’s just what I’m doing, staying ready and continuing to work on my kicks, my form, and fundamentals,” says Goss. “I’ll do anything I can to help the team in any way.”

  • By Julie Stewart

Her kick wasn’t perfect, but that hardly mattered to April Goss. When she finally got her big chance, Goss made her point — and history.

A four-year member of Kent State’s team, Goss kicked an extra point in the first half Saturday in a 45-13 win over Delaware State, becoming the second woman to score in a major college football game.

Wearing No. 91, Goss made the kick with 4:30 left in the second quarter, giving the Golden Flashes a 29-6 lead. Following the touchdown, starting kicker Shane Hynes initially went on the field, but coach Paul Haynes called a timeout and sent in Goss.

Her kick veered right off the hold giving her a moment of panic, but it cleared the crossbar and went through the uprights. When the officials signaled the kick was good, she was mobbed by her teammates. Once Goss got to the sideline, she shared hugs with all of Kent State’s coaches and was congratulated by university president Dr. Beverly Warren.

April Goss of @KentStFootball becomes 2nd female ever to score in FBS game! pic.twitter.com/gNeBUa9Zdw

— Kent State Athletics (@KentStAthletics) September 12, 2015

“I was a little disappointed I didn’t make a better kick,” she said in a phone interview. “I was sure it was going right, but it did go through. I’ll probably beat myself up for that for a little while, but it was awesome.”

Katie Hnida kicked a pair of extra points for New Mexico in 2003. According to STATS LLC, Goss, who was a soccer player in high school before deciding to try football, appears to be the only woman currently on a Division I roster.

Haynes had been trying to get Goss into a game for the past two seasons. Before her historic kick, the closest she came was making the game-winning extra point in the 2014 spring game.

Goss knew there was a chance she’d get a chance to kick against Delaware State, a Football Championship Subdivision school. She didn’t have time to get nervous when she went on the field, and other than her kick angling to the right, it was a moment she’ll never forget.

“Amazing,” said Goss, who had yet to talk to her parents, sister and future brother-in-law who were at the game. “The way my teammates helped me celebrate was special.”

Earlier this week, Haynes had high praise for Goss.

“She works her tail off. She’s the first one out there in practice and the last one off the field,” he said. “Every time someone gets up and talks, one of our players gets up and talks, they always talk about they’ve got brothers, and a sister.”

Now that she’s made her extra point, Goss hopes to get another try but understands that might not happen.

“I would love another chance,” she said. “But what I’d like more is for us to make it to a bowl game and win, that would be more special.”

This article was written by Tom Withers from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Women and Football: Popularity on the Rise

Historically, American football is seen by many as a man’s game for male fans. Women are viewed as only a small part of the fan base, usually as the wives and daughters, not as enthusiasts in their own right. Since 2009, that stereotype has shifted as the popularity of football for women as increased significantly.

Women on the Sidelines

Between the years 2009 and 2013, female interest in NFL football rose by 26%, more than double the 10% increase among US men. During that same time period, women and men also showed greater interest in Sunday night football by about the same amount. For Thursday night games, growth was tremendous between 2012 and 2013: 32% for women and 21% for men. Of the more than 114 million Super Bowl viewers in 2015, almost half of them were women. These numbers outstripped female interest in the Grammy’s and the Academy Awards, stereotypically regarded as artistic and, thus, more attractive to females than sports. About half of all American women are football fans as opposed to 69% of American men according to a study by Ohio University. The number of official female football fan clubs is rising.

Female Fans Engage

Men and women cheer on their teams from the living room or they attend matches in person. Female attendance at college football games demonstrates a commitment to the game with about 57% of college females attending at least three college games, just a notch below the men’s statistic of 64% attendance on those same terms. The numbers show signs of equalizing.

Along with real football, females are more involved in fantasy football leagues than ever before. Data shows an increase from 20% to 34% between 2014 and 2015.

Certain teams report particularly high levels of female fan engagement including the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, and the Dallas Cowboys.

Women Play Football

At the high school level, more than 1,700 girls were playing 11-aside football during the 2013/2014 season. This number was up 12% from the previous season and a whopping 161% over the 1999/2000 season during which just 658 girls took part in high school football. While the data does not indicate a reason for this sharp increase, statistics are undeniable. Female interest has spiked and barriers are coming down.

A number of figures stand out from among their peers. Names like Reilly Fox, Evonnie Rmos, Brooke Liebsch, Erin Dimeglio, Mary Kate Smith, Tatum Koenig, and Lisa Spangler represent only a tiny portion of a talented pack at the high school level. At the college level, Brittany Ryan, Ashley Baker, Kate Hnida, Liz Heaston, KaLena Barnes, Tonya Butler, and Shelby Osborne stand out.

Some of these women made history. Barnes, a punter for the University of Nebraska, became the first woman on a top-ten team in 2000. Florida’s Erin Dimeglio was the first female quarterback in the history of that state’s varsity teams as recently as 2012. In 2003, Hnida became the first woman to score during an NCAA Division 1-A game. She was a placekicker for the University of New Mexico. There are many firsts represented on the list above.

These names are important because the women mentioned here could at some point represent US football at the professional level. The Women’s Football Alliance was formed in 2007 and features 45 teams. There are 38 teams in the Independent Women’s Football League as well. Both of these are professional leagues, and while numbers of viewers and level of interest do not compete with NFL statistics among men or women, women are playing a more significant role in the sport at least in the United States.

Women at the Higher Levels

With this growing involvement at both the fan and participation levels, there must also be room for women on the field in roles of authority and such women are in demand. The Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills have hired women in coaching capacities: Kathryn Smith is a Special Teams Coach for Buffalo and Jen Welter works for Arizona as an Assistant Coach. More officials are also female such as Sarah Thomas and Shannon Eastin. These are inroads in a male-dominated field, helped by the number of female team owners and executives who are women. Fans can expect to see more women taking similar roles in the future.

Three teams are owned outright by women: The Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Tennessee Titans. The Buffalo Bills are owned by a husband and wife. Mother and son Mark and Carol Davis co-own the Oakland Raider while the New York Giants are owned by multiple females from a single-family plus a male co-owner. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are owned by a sister-brother team.

As for those executives, several females hold positions with the NFL such as VPs in various departments, one is chief health and medical advisor, and another is the chief marketing officer for the NFL. The Vice President and Chief Brand Officer for the Dallas Cowboys and Chair of the NFL Foundation is Charlotte Jones Anderson. Note that there are many other positions of authority, all of them filled by men, but women are making names for themselves in American Football not just as fans but also in positions of authority and leadership where they know the sport at least as well as males in the same positions.

Marketing Opportunities

Football is a sport, but also a sales opportunity. Marketers know their consumers, and if they failed to create some sales tactics to attract females they would lose about half of their audience. Under Armour and Dick’s Sporting Goods have both created ad campaigns to attract female football fans specifically. The NFL wisely collaborated with Marie Claire Magazine to create an “Ultimate Fangirl Guide to Football.”

Special Attention for Women

In some cases, the fan base of a team is dominated by women. In honor of those statistics, those clubs have begun to offer women-only events. Activities include Ladies’ Night and a training camp where women go through the same moves players take part in when they prepare for game day.

About Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration Program

Ohio University, a leader in athletic education, established the first specialized academic sports program in the United States in 1966.

The online Master of Athletic Administration program is designed for professionals looking to advance their careers in athletic administration. Graduates are eligible for the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) certification. On average, students can complete the program in two years and develop the skills to run a successful interscholastic athletic department that meets the needs of student-athletes.

Women Are Now the Fastest-Growing Market of Football Fans

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Published on September 06, 2017 at 1:02 PM EDT

Updated on September 06, 2017 at 1:40 PM EDT

With the NFL continuing to increase the number of games it plays in London – and with last year’s Raiders-Texans matchup taking place in Mexico – you might think the league’s biggest opportunity for growth lays in foreign markets.

But contrary to popular belief, the NFL’s fastest-growing market already has a deep passion for the sport. The same goes for football at the college level.

Football’s fastest-growing market are women.

RELATED: Can Concussion-Prevention Innovations Save College Football from Itself?

The numbers don’t lie: In 2015, 47% of Super Bowl viewers were female. 50% of women identify themselves as football fans, and if you’ve ever attended a college football game or watched one on television it shouldn’t surprised you that 57% of college females attend three or more of their school’s games each season.

This passion for football isn’t just limited to fandom either.

This month high school student Holly Neher became the first female in the history of Florida football to toss a touchdown pass.

Holly Neher becomes the first female to throw a TD pass in a Florida high school game. (via HHSpartanSports, HHHFootballTeam/Twitter)

A post shared by House of Highlights (@houseofhighlights) on Sep 4, 2017 at 2:49pm PDT

Turn outs, 1,715 females just like Holly played 11-man high school football during the 2013-2014 season.

What it all adds up to is an incredible opportunity not only for women to make deeper roads in football at the high school, college, and professional levels, but also it’s a golden opportunity for the sport to cater to an audience equally as passionate as their male counterparts.

Check out these eye-popping stats courtesy of Ohio University that includes ways marketers can leverage the incredible purchasing power of female fans.

Ohio University Online

Getting to know April Goss, the second woman to ever score in an FBS game

Okay, some lighter questions now. What was the clincher? What made you decide to go to Kent State?

You know, people have asked that before, and really, I don’t have a specific answer. I remember when I got here, all my friends were saying “oh, the nursing program is really good” and everything. I feel like there was something in me that I wanted to hear, like God had a purpose for me to be here, because He does value me, even if I’m not listening to Him.

What are your future goals and ambitions in your post-graduate life?

I do have a passion for working with athletes, that may be an option, working at the collegiate level. I have also wanted to work with men and women or those that need the help in a counseling job, so that’s another option as well. I haven’t totally figured it out yet.

Do you see yourself as a role model?

I guess I never really thought of myself as one. But after this past week, meeting a lot of different people, and getting a lot of messages from young girls and parents of young girls and people are saying “you’re an inspiration” and backing me up about that. I do hope that people see that this matters and realize that such things are possible.

If there is one thing that you want people to remember about you, or take away from your accomplishment, what would it be?

No one’s asked me that. That’s a hard question. But I think the biggest thing is that I didn’t get to this point alone. There’s an amazing group of guys that I’m surrounded with that are my brothers, and support me day in and day out, including the coaching staff here. Ultimately, none of this possible without God, who does awesome things. I am not the biggest, I am not the strongest, and I am not the fastest, but somehow, through all of that, I prevailed. I didn’t take “no” for a final answer, and that speaks volumes to God’s character, more than mine.

***

Editor’s note: Questions and quotes have been condensed for conciseness.

Thanks kindly to the Kent State Athletic Department, specifically Aaron Chimenti, for allowing us the opportunity to profile April and her accomplishment. Many thanks are also directed to April herself for being a lovely interview subject that was willing to take time out of a busy schedule to participate in (yet another) interview. You can follow her on Twitter at @April_Goss.

Kent State’s Female Kicker Still Waiting For A Chance

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Good morning, I’m Steve Inskeep. We’re waiting for April Goss to get a chance on the football field. She’s the kicker for Kent State. I did say she. She is believed to be the only woman on the roster of a Division One college football team. She once kicked an extra point in a spring game, and the coach says she’ll play sometime this regular season. Of course, you need to send in a player at the perfect time, and last Saturday was not that time as Kent State lost to Illinois 52-3. It’s MORNING EDITION.

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Female college football kicker

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