Toni Harris made history this week by receiving not one, but six college football scholarship offers, becoming the first woman in history to receive one for a non-kicker position. Harris announced Tuesday that she accepted a scholarship to Central Methodist University in Missouri.
“For them to believe in me and give me the chance, it’s an honor,” she said after signing a letter of intent Tuesday, according to the Huffington Post.
“Such a cry baby but I’m ready for my new journey,” Harris wrote on Twitter.
— Toni Harris ✨ (@_Antoinetteeeee) February 26, 2019
Harris previously played football at East Los Angeles Community College and gained attention with her ambition to become to first female NFL player. Toyota even featured her in an ad for the 2019 Super Bowl this month.
Watch the Harris’ Super Bowl commercial below:
— Toyota USA (@Toyota) February 4, 2019
Internet trolls have already taken the liberty to criticize her record, her size, and most of all, her gender and whether or not she belongs in the football world.
Harris is more than aware of the negativity but says it doesn’t get to her.
“All the negative energy & comments but all I can think about is how blessed I am for it not to bother me,” she wrote on Twitter Thursday. “I know that the same God that protects me when I walk the streets is the same God that protects me while I’m on field.”
God be looking over me. All the negative energy & comments but all I can think about is how blessed I am for it not to bother me. I know that the same God that protects me when I walk the streets is the same God that protects me while I’m on field. That will never change 🙌🏽❤️
— Toni Harris ✨ (@_Antoinetteeeee) February 28, 2019
But that negativity is offset by positive encouragement from some big names, including Sports Illustrated, ESPNW, the Atlanta Falcons, and the NFL.
Toni Harris (@_Antoinetteeeee) just became the first female skill position player to receive a college football scholarship.
— NFL (@NFL) February 27, 2019
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) February 27, 2019
Here 👏 for 👏 this 👏 pic.twitter.com/Aez92GvHOG
— espnW (@espnW) February 27, 2019
— NFL (@NFL) February 28, 2019
History in the making: Congrats, Toni Harris! 🏈 pic.twitter.com/jhYQe4IvIa
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 27, 2019
Harris’ scholarship is even more remarkable considering she survived ovarian cancer just four years ago, losing half her body weight while battling the disease.
The 22-year-old safety now stands at 5 feet 7 inches, weighs 164 pounds and is ready to change the football world.
“My biggest pet peeve is people telling me that I can’t. So, I have to prove them wrong,” Harris told NBC Nightly News. “I do not let anything stop me.”