Haley Van Voorhis, a safety at Division III Shenandoah University, became the first woman to ever play an NCAA football game at a position other than kicker on Saturday.
The junior, wearing No. 10, entered the Hornets' game against Juniata late in the first quarter and recorded a hit on the quarterback on a third-down stop after being left unblocked at the line of scrimmage:
History is made: Shenandoah safety #10 Haley Van Voorhis becomes the first female non-kicker to appear in a college football game at the NCAA or NAIA levels for #D3FB @SUhornetsFB.
The junior hurried the QB on the play: pic.twitter.com/0mW8K6WeDG
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 23, 2023
Shenandoah won the game, 48-7.
Previously, the history of women in college football was limited to placekicking. Vanderbilt soccer player Sarah Fuller famously became the first woman to appear in a Power Five game when the football team ran out of kickers in 2020, then the first woman to score in a Power Five game.
Fuller was preceded by Willamette's Liz Heaston, the first woman to appear and score in college football in 1997; Jacksonville State's Ashley Martin, the first woman to do the same in a Division I game in 2001; and New Mexico's Katie Hnida, the first to break the barrier at the FBS level in 2003. April Goss did the same at Kent State in 2015.
ESPN notes that Campbellsville University's Shelby Osborne, also a defensive back, participated in the NAIA program, but never appeared in a game.
Van Voorhis, listed at 5-foot-6, 145 pounds, previously told ESPN she had received attention as the only girl on her Pop Warner and high school teams:
"There's definitely people out there who see the story and think, 'This girl's going to get hurt,'" she said. "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."
The Plains, Virginia, native is also a sprinter on the Hornets' track and field team. She made All-State honorable mention as a high-schooler in 2019, per Shenandoah.