A Florida teen has made history by becoming the first female quarterback in her high school to throw a touchdown pass – and she did so during her first-ever varsity game.
Sixteen-year-old Holly Neher, a student at Hollywood Hills High School, threw a 42-yard strike on Thursday night at Cooper City High as she made her debut as the second-ever female quarterback to play in her school’s tackle football team.
The junior was brought into the game during the fourth quarter, and on her first pass attempt threw a far-reaching ball over a leaping safety to her six-foot-three teammate Alexander Shelton, who broke the other team’s tackle and completed the 45-yard-touchdown.
Girl power! Holly Neher, 16, became the first female quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in the history of Hollywood Hills High School
First time’s the charm: The junior threw the historic pass during her first-ever varsity football game on Thursday night
Although her team still lost 21-7 against Hallandale High School, Holly threw the pass to make the sole touchdown of the whole game, giving the Spartans the only points they scored.
‘I started jumping up and down. My teammates started jumping on me,’ Holly told ABC of the moment.
‘Coaches were screaming from the sidelines. Everyone started hitting me on the helmet’.
The five-foot-two athlete is the only girl in her 50-member varsity football team, and the second girl ever to play in her school’s 51-year history, according to principal Erin Brown.
‘When she made that pass the whole crowd went wild and you could see the support from her teammates,’ she told ABC. ‘We couldn’t be more proud of our students.’
Holly, who said she had to tune everything out to control her nerves at the moment, had played flag football for two years before she made the transition to tackle football this year.
A far-reaching throw: Holly threw a 42-yard strike to teammate Alexander Shelton (pictured), who broke the other team’s tackle and completed the 45-yard-touchdown
A win regardless of the score: The Spartans lost 21-7 against Hallandale High School, but Holly scored the the pass for the only touchdown of the game
‘I wanted to continue playing the sport so I tried out for the team,’ said Holly. ‘I knew that I was capable.’
Although she is the second quarterback in her team’s depth chart, she wasn’t put in the game after starter Ramon James, and instead went in after Freshman Emile Bien-Aime.
‘We kept screaming, ‘Put Holly in! Put Holly in!’ Holly’s mother, Paula Neher, told the Sun Sentinel.
Holly may even be the first female athlete to ever throw a touchdown pass in a high school tackle football game in Florida history- When asked, the state’s High School Athletic Association was unable to confirm this, a spokesman said he believed it was possible.
Holly said she doesn’t plan on pressuring her coach Brandon Graham, to make her a starter after seeing what she can do on the field, but he admitted the teen has the ‘it’ factor he looks for in potential quarterbacks.
A football star: The 16-year-old (pictured) played flag football for two years before transitioning to tackle football this year
Part of the team: Holly is the only girl in her 50-people varsity team, and the second-ever female athlete to play football at her school
‘Whether it’s a female or male quarterback or a ninth or twelfth grader, you want someone who isn’t afraid to make a mistake and who knows they’re going to get yelled at from time to time,’ Coach Graham told ABC.
‘There is something about her that is so inspiring for her teammates. They want to follow her,’ he added.
Now that she’s proven herself as a capable quarterback – and even has her own Wikipedia page as the ‘first female in the state of Florida to throw a touchdown in a high school game’ – Holly said she will have open arms to anything that comes her way when it comes to her future in football, and wants other girls to know that it’s possible to break the gender barrier in sports that are usually seen as male-only.
‘I hope that they all see how small how I am and no matter what mindset or color, race, size, gender, you can do anything you want,’ she said.