Shelby Osborne is bringing girl power to the gridiron.
The Indiana high school senior has scored a spot as college football’s first-ever female defensive back after signing with the Campbellsville University (Ky.) Tigers.
“I wasn’t going to let anyone talk me out of it,” Osborne said. “I know who I am. I know what I’m capable of.”
Osborne graduates from Jeffersonville High School Saturday after playing only one season. She says she was inspired to play when she noticed the team struggling in a game.
“We weren’t playing to the best of our ability,” she said. “I believed at the time and I ended up shouting that I could play better than that from the sidelines.”
Once she joined the team, Osborne says she had to work to earn her teammates’ respect.
“I started winning them over one by one, and the more I played, the more they saw that I was serious about it,” she said.
Osborne’s high school coach, Lonnie Oldham, said Osborne deserved her spot on the team.
“She did all the physical stuff,” Oldham said. “She’s taken some hits, but she always gets up.”
But Osborne says her limited experience, and the fact that she is a woman, made it difficult for her to receive attention from the college ranks – until she visited Campbellsville.
“I went up to Coach (Perry) Thomas and said ‘Hi, my name is Shelby Osborne.’ I explained who I was, who I played for,” she said.
“I got the letter Wednesday, and it was the best news I ever received.”
Osborne reports for her first official college workout on Aug. 8, saying she’s ready to play at the collegiate level.
“You have to follow your dreams relentlessly and tenaciously,” she said. “You can’t stop. You just got to go for it.”