Becca Longo has already made history as college football scholarship after signing a letter of intent to play at D-II Adams State in Alamosa, Colo. However, the 18-year-old kicker is setting her sights much higher than college. Longo has dreams of being a kicker in the NFL, and those that she grew up with believe that she has all of the tools do it. Among this crowd are former NFL quarterback Timm Rosenbach (coach of Adams State) and former University of Arizona kicker Alex Zendejas (who knows a thing or two about mental fortitude).a
"If you can play football and have determination, I don't care what your gender is," said Rosenbach to Bleacher Report's Lars Anderson. "And Becca can play, simple as that. She's got accuracy and she's got a powerful leg, which will only get stronger." In mid-July, Longo will begin activities with Adams State and Rosenbach will see exactly what Longo has got.
Longo was a sophomore at Queen Creek High School in Arizona when her career began, and she wore soccer cleats to her first game. She was very diligent in her approach, taking in the game and trying to get a feel for how she would approach her first kick. But she immediately encountered a number of distractions from young girls asking for autographs to someone yelling "That's the girl that's trying to play football!" Longo managed to block out the distractions to nail her first kick.
Longo went on to train with Zendejas at his shop in Phoenix, trying to hone her game to be ready for the next step. Zendejas sees the potential that Longo displays. When she made the switch from kicking off a tee to the ground, he was astounded by her pace. "It only took her one week to adjust," he told Anderson. "It's rare for a kicker to adjust so fast. But that just shows you that Becca is different -- very different."
Zendejas's language is telling. Longo is adjusting quickly for any kicker, not just for her gender. It isn't about that with Longo. She has an incredible leg, and the first time she kicked a football, Anderson writes, that even she was surprised by how far it went. Zendejas has put her through the ringer since then. "I need to work her out," he had told Longo's father, Bob. "I need to see how badly she wants it."
Zendejas, who had an infamously disastrous game against in-state rival Arizona State in college, believes that kicking is in a player's mental fortitude, not physical. "Kicking isn't about all the makes; it's about how you respond to the misses," he said. "This is what I tell Becca. She's going to confront difficult times. How she responds will define her. But she's ready. She's ready for anything."
Rosenbach shares the sentiment, but he's taking the pragmatic approach that anyone would expect of a coach: "We brought her to Adams State for a reason: to compete for a job and help us win football games." That risk could pay off dividends for Adams State sooner than they think.
Longo also has ties to college football's first female kicker, Katie Hnida, who played for both Colorado and New Mexico State and was the first woman to score in a Division I football game. Hnida's special teams coach was Everett Todd, who is the brother of Longo's former coach, Gerald Todd.
To read the full feature on Longo from Lars Anderson, see the link above or go to the Bleacher Report story here.