A few weeks ago on September 9th, freshman defensive back Taylor Crout went out during the fourth quarter for NCAA Division III school Fitchburg State University (Massachusetts). The Fitchburg State Falcons were up against the Castleton State Spartans (Vermont). Crout was on the field for a couple of snaps and during her time on the field, she was credited with an assisted tackle. Crout just joined Fitchburg State this season after beginning her career at the University of Puget Sound.
Crout playing on the 9th means she played in an NCAA Division III game before junior safety Hayley Van Voorhis, who is currently credited as being the first female to play in an NCAA or NAIA game not as a kicker. Van Hoorhis is a safety for Shenandoah University and made her debut for the Shenandoah University Hornets on September 23rd. On the field, Van Voorhis helped force a three and out (when the offense starts a drive, executes three plays in a row, fails to get the first down, and is forced to punt the ball on fourth down). Her contributions are of course still amazing and a step in the right direction for equality in sports, but Crout technically made her debut prior to Van Hoorhis making hers. This means the credit of being the first female to play in an NCAA or NAIA game not as a kicker should go to Crout, not Van Hoorhis.
But is Crout the first? The more research is done on this topic, the more women are found that this credit might technically belong to. Maria del Carmen Sacristan Benjet of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) Engineers came in for the last two snaps of a game against the Coast Guard on November 6th, 2021 as a wide receiver. The Engineers are a Division III NCAA school so Maria technically qualifies to be the first woman to play in the NCAA or NAIA, not in the position of kicker.
Regardless of who was the first to do it, the milestone itself is huge for the future of women in sports. These women are making a significant difference and doing so much for equality in sports and make it possible for young girls to have someone to look up to. Being able to see women do well in a more traditionally all male space is so important for young girls and even young boys. This gives young girls the opportunity to dream outside of the box society has set for them.
The future is bright for these phenomenal women in this upcoming season and beyond.