Carli Lloyd and Molly Virtue: Women in Football

At both the NFL and on the Allderdice Football Team, women have entered the historically male-dominated dominated sport.

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Heather Khalifa

Lloyd taking the kick that started it all.

Abigail Segel

At the end of August, Olympian and two-time World Cup champion Carli Lloyd visited a Philadelphia Eagles practice. The New Jersey based athlete was in town for an upcoming United States Women’s National Team friendly in the Philadelphia. Naturally, being a world-famous soccer player, she took a shot at kicking a field goal. A 55-yarder, to be more exact. She did more than just take a kick; the ball sailed through the posts with apparent ease. 

The Eagles posted a video of the kick on Twitter, and it soon went viral. Sinking 55-yard field goals is practically the holy grail of the kicker position. Speculation ran rampant about if she could play for the NFL. Soon enough, she received interest from two undisclosed NFL teams to attend training and even kick in a preseason game. She temporarily declined because of her commitments to her club and national soccer teams but said she would be open to considering the idea at a future time. However, the saga brought popular attention to the possibility of a woman playing in the highly masculine NFL. 

Lloyd is far from the only female in and around the football world. Sophomore Molly Virtue is the only girl on the Allderdice football team. The linebacker was very impressed with Lloyd’s kick. “That’s insane! And she acted like it was just no big deal,” she said. “She just went up and kicked it like it was no problem.”

Virtue’s experience on the Allderdice team has been generally positive. Of her teammates, she said, “We’re like a family… the guys have accepted me at this point,” after being “skeptical” during off-season training.

Steph Chambers
Virtue running through a drill at a summer training.

Both Virtue and math teacher and avid football fan Jeffrey Slosky are enthusiastic about the possibility of Lloyd playing in the NFL. Virtue said a team in the NFL “hundred percent should draft her,” and Slosky said that he would be very excited if the Steelers drafted Lloyd “if she was better than [current Steelers kicker Chris] Boswell.” He said, “I’m not for gimmicks or anything like that. Whatever’s going to be best for the team is always going to be the way that I would go.”

What would Lloyd playing in the NFL mean for women in football and sports in general? A lot, according to both Virtue and Slosky. As a female football player herself, Virtue mentioned the value in having role models to look up to. “I think I want to play football because of… Toni Harris… she’s awesome. She’s the first female to receive a scholarship to play football that’s not a kicker, and she’s planning to go to the NFL in two years. She’s my number one role model.”

Slosky acknowledged the challenges and naysayers that inevitably come with breaking barriers, but asserted that the benefits outweigh all disadvantages if the player is good enough. “Carli Lloyd is very recognizable, and I wouldn’t want to call it a gimmick because she obviously could do the job, but it wouldn’t hurt sales of tickets if you had Carli Lloyd kicking on your team. I think you might open up your audience to a little broader of a group of people.”

Further, more profoundly, Slosky sees this moment as just a point in the long arc of history. “Any time you’re trying to break down a barrier, you’re always going to have to deal with people that want to hate on it and are against it,” he said. “But this has happened so many times throughout history in so many different ways that it’s kind of what we do as a society. If there are barriers, we break them down.”