When Shaw University’s football team takes the field this season, not only will they be fighting for another CIAA conference championship, but they’ll be making history in the process.
India Pulphus, a soccer and track athlete from Cleveland, Ohio, has made the Bears team as a placekicker. When she takes the field this season, she likely will be the first female kicker in modern HBCU football history.
“I played soccer, and my friend and I were joking around one day and said, ‘We should kick for the football team,’” she explained. “I kicked my senior year of high school, but I came to Shaw to play soccer and run track.”
One of Pulphus’ kicking videos made its way to the Shaw football team, and before long, the players were asking her to try out.
“They would ask me, ‘Why don’t you kick here,’ but I knew my schedule was going to be pretty busy with soccer and track.”
Pulphus said kicking coach Randy Grissom was willing to work around her schedule last spring to kick for head coach Adrian Jones.
“I didn’t think the team was serious, but fast forward to spring, and they said, ‘We need a new kicker,’ so I showed coach Grissom one of my videos, and I got to track practice early to kick for them. After track practice, they said I made the team.”
Pulphus is looking forward to being on the field for the first time and experiencing the competitive atmosphere.
“You watch football games in the stands, and when your team scores a touchdown, it’s one thing,” she says. “On the field, it’s a different feeling. I just want to experience that from the other side.”
As the 50th anniversary celebration of the groundbreaking legislature Title IX continues, Pulphus is aware of her place in history.
“It means a lot to be the first female kicker in Shaw history,” she said. “Even though football is a male-dominated sport, if women want to do it and know they can, I don’t understand why we can’t do it.”
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