‘I want to be the first girl in the NFL,’ NC middle school football player says


HIGH POINT, N.C. (WFMY) – Who says girls can’t play football?

A 12-year-old in High Point is ready to prove the doubters wrong. Shelby Sutphin is the first and only girl to play on the Allen Jay Preparatory All Stars Football team in High Point. But her dream goes far beyond the middle school field.

“I want to be the first girl in the NFL. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do and it would be really fun,” said Sutphin.

Sutphin would follow a growing list of women to play college football in the United States. Popular role models include Katie Hnida, a kicker for the University of Colorado in 1999 and also the University of New Mexico.

Becca Longo, who is making history as a kicker at Adams State University. She’s the first woman to earn a college football scholarship to an NCAA school.

And just a few weeks ago, Jacksonville State University’s kicker Ashley Martin became the first woman to score an extra point in a Division 1 football game.

Though college football has had a few women play kicker over the years, none so far, have been in the game to score a touchdown or make a tackle. And that’s where Sutphin sees her name in glowing lights. Her goal is to be the first wide receiver in the NFL. And her coach and teammates think it can happen.

“When she came on the team I really recognized her because she was one of the harder workers on the team. She’s probably even opened a few eyes, including coaches,” said teammate, 8th grade cornerback Caleb Caldwell.

Shelby Sutphin started playing tackle football with the High Point Mighty Mights at 7-years-old. Now in the 7th grade, she’s all-in, ready to prove anyone who thinks girls can’t play football wrong.

“At first, I think some people were surprised because they didn’t think that girls play football,” said Sutphin. “But I do, and I play with heart.”

“She has plenty of that. She’s that energetic, every drill you have to pull her off to give someone else a chance,” said her coach, Luke Barker.

While Shelby runs each play with heart, her biggest cheerleader’s heart can’t stop pounding.

“She’s fearless,” said Christy Lowe, Shelby’s mom. “She’s rarely hit hard and when she is she thinks it’s fun. I don’t know why but she always says it’s fun.”

Shelby’s Mom is nervous about concussions but all Shelby wants is to get her hands on the ball.

“I’m always worried, but I can’t hold her back because of my fears,” said Lowe.

The support she gets from her teammates, the school and the community is unmatched.

“I think it’s really good because when we play other teams and she does really well. I’m like ha! You really didn’t see that coming, did you?,” said Caldwell.

Shelby says she tries her hardest during every game.

“I hope in the future I can make touchdowns,” said Sutphin.

And she’ll always remember the school that gave her a chance where the team isn’t just a bunch of boys and one girl – they’re family.

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