HS Football: Hamilton vs. Basha

Kicker Becca Longo (4) of Basha kicks an extra point during the first half of the high school football game between Hamilton and Basha at Basha high school on October 14, 2016.

Becca Longo is burning bright in the national spotlight now, but it all really began more than a decade ago.

The Basha senior became the first female football player to sign a national letter of intent for football, and the news brought national interviews with CNN, ESPN and Good Morning America.

None of that was the goal when she began idolizing Heidi Garrett more than a decade ago, when Longo saw her kick for her brother’s high school team in California. Garrett holds the national record for females with a 48-yard field goal.

Nor was it the dream when Longo was in San Diego for a soccer tournament and she booted a penalty kick so high and far past the goal that people on the sidelines mockingly made the sign for a good field goal.

It’s only now that Division II Adams State saw enough in her recruiting tape she sent out and the confidence she showed in the initial visit at Basha to give her an opportunity. Reportedly, a female has never gotten a football scholarship at the Division I or II level until Longo signed her letter of intent on Wednesday.

“It’s crazy to think about it and how much it is blowing up,” Longo said. “Everyone is saying I’m the first one to do it, and that’s hard for me to believe. It’s just a title. It doesn’t change anything for me. I just want to do what I love.”

The love started for good when she saw Queen Creek playing spring ball her freshman year.

“Me and my friend said we were going to play football,” said Longo, who kicked for the Bulldogs’ JV team as a sophomore. “Only, I really did.”

It’s that kind of mentality that sealed the deal for Adams State coach and former Cardinals quarterback Timm Rosenbach.

“What I want to make clear is that is capable of doing this at this level,” Rosenbach said. “Do I see her making 54-yarders or kicking off for us? No, but I’ve seen players aged 18 to 35 miss a lot chip shots. As long as you make the kicks you are supposed to make, then you have something.

“In just talking to her you can tell there is a mental toughness. She is the one who put herself out there. This is something she wants to do so if she is good enough to do it we should afford her the opportunity.”

It is one she is not taking lightly.

Longo made a 30-yard field goal and 30 of 33 field goal attempts last season after sitting out 2015. Now, she is headed to Alamosa, Colorado, in the fall ready to do whatever it takes to succeed.

“I just want to go and kick, and play basketball,” said Longo, who hopes to play both sports. “I plan on studying sports management and focusing on my schooling. I know I am getting a chance to do something that most people don’t so I am going to do my best to make it happen.”

And if she happens to inspire some younger girls like Garrett did for her, then she will do her best to do just that along the way.

“It is hard to put into words what all of this means,” she said. “I never expected any of this and I am speechless when it comes to the amount of support and help I’ve received to get me through this process. 

“I just want to kick and get better, but if it can inspire some young girls do something like that then I hope it works out like a dream like it has for me.”

– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or jskoda@evtrib.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.

– Like and share this article on the East Valley Tribune on Facebook. Follow the East Valley Tribune on Twitter @EVTNow.

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