Progress seems to come in fits and starts. We take two steps forward, one back, some more back, a few forward, eventually pushing new boundaries and into new territories.
One point to progress: a woman has finally managed to win a full, four-year scholarship to college based on her football skills.
American football, to be clear. The kind where you have to use your hands and people running full-force into you is part of the game.
Meet Antoinette “Toni” Harris, a free safety on a full scholarship to Central Methodist University.
She says that she always adored football as a kid, and even though she enjoyed both cheerleader and track, she kept coming back to her first love.
Toni says she watched her cousins play before deciding to take the leap herself, and had a big job winning over her teammates – and others – to her cause.
“But once they [were won over], they were loving, they were supportive – and eventually everyone else got on board.”
And she needed that love and support because at 18, Harris stared down a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Her battle with the disease ended with a win, but one that came with a cost – half her body weight and a struggle to get back into playing condition.
She persevered though, and finished out high school as homecoming queen and a force on the field. She learned to accept (and use to her advantage) her smaller size. Harris then enrolled at Golden West College and played there as a free safety for two years.
“At the end of the day, I told myself, ‘I cannot allow myself to live in fear. You don’t really live if you live in fear.'”
After two years at Golden West, she ended up with dozens of scholarship offers to continue playing football in college. She accepted a full ride from Central Methodist University, a four-year institution, and made history in doing so.
Now, at 22, Harris is happy, healthy, and dreams of playing in the NFL, though she’s got a backup plan, too: she’d also like to be a “homicide detective with a background in forensics.”
I’d say she can and will do just about anything she puts her mind to – how could anyone argue otherwise?