A clip of Toni Harris in the SB LIII commercial sponsored by Toyota. (Photo via: USA Today, Toyota)
March 1, 2019 — Happy Friday! I’m starting a new blog trend here: Feature Female Friday. Each Friday I will highlight a female who has or is making headlines. I thought it would be great to learn more about the past and future goals for some athletically talented women out there.
This week I felt it was only appropriate to discuss the FIRST female football player to be signed to a college team and appear in a Super Bowl Commercial: Toni Harris.
Harris started playing football when she was four years old and has reached for the moon ever since. She stated in a CNN interview, “Why aim for the stars when there are footsteps on the moon.” Such an inspirational woman am I RIGHT! Harris’ dream is to play in the NFL one day, specifically for the Seahawks. When she mentioned this during her acceptance speech, coach Pete Carroll gave her a little shout out, which I thought was dope of him. I personally don’t enjoy the Seahawks or Carroll, but it was a point in his direction from me.
Another shocking piece of her past: Harris diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 18, and she beat it. As if she has not already proved she is a force to be reckoned with.
“I had a coach tell me before that I would never get to the next level because I was a lot smaller and not as fast as the other guys, so that moment taught me to never give up,” she told CNN. “From that moment then I told myself no one’s ever going to decide what I am going to do with my life. That’s my decision.” (Almasy, Steve. “Toni Harris Gets a College Football Scholarship to Play Defense on Men’s Team.”)
The 5’7″ safety searched hard to find a community college that would believe in her passion, which eventually led her to play at the East Lost Angeles Community College. Harris signed a letter of intent to Central Methodist University NAIA in Missouri on Tuesday February 26, 2019 with a full-ride scholarship. Phenomenal.
This is one of the most inspiring stories I have read in a while, especially among the recurring cheating scandals, prostitution and aggressive actions against women. Harris is shedding some positive light on women in sports, and a male dominant one at that!
There were a few women prior to Harris who signed contracts with Division II or above schools: In 2017 Kicker Rebecca Longo signed a scholarship with Adams State University, a DII school in Colorado (she was a redshirt in 2017 and did not play in a game last year). In 2018 defensive player Shelby Osborne played on a partial scholarship at the NAIA University of Kentucky (she played one game 2018 season).
After reading about these two I’m sure there are a number of people who may be skeptical of Harris’ goals. I’m sure it is difficult to be a woman fighting for her spot in the NFL, but with Harris it feels as if her drive is different.
“If it doesn’t happen, I can just pave the way for another little girl to come out and play — or even start a women’s NFL,” Harris said. (Bergman, Jeremy. “Toni Harris is first female skill-position player to sign LOI)