Earlier this month, high school junior Holly Neher earned a spot on her high school’s football team. Last week, she made history by becoming the first female starting quarterback in the state of Florida, which has long been a hotbed for high school football.
In the 51-year history of Hollywood Hills High School, Holly is just the second female to play varsity football. At 5’2”, she’s obviously not the prototypical quarterback, even at the high school level. But she didn’t shy away from a tight competition for the starting job during preseason camp.
Following the coin toss of the team’s first game, Hollywood Hills coach Brandon Graham informed Holly that she would get the start.
“I was a little nervous but my teammates just told me ‘Holly, we know you can do it,'” Holly recalls.
She proceeded to throw a touchdown pass on the first play of the game, only to have it called back because of a penalty. But a few plays later, Holly connected on another touchdown pass that counted, giving her team an early 7-0 lead.
Holly completed 5 of 5 passes for 126 yards on her team’s first two drives, both of which were scoring drives. She then stepped aside so other quarterbacks could get some game action during her team’s 51-27 win.
With plenty of competition for the spot, it’s unclear if Holly will remain the starting quarterback for the entire season. But she’s certainly made a strong first impression and proven she’s up to the task.
“She doesn’t treat this as ‘I’m a girl on a tackle football team,'” said Graham. “She sees it as ‘I’m a quarterback on the (Hollywood Hills) football team.’ That’s something I really appreciate that about her.”
It was only back in 2012 that Erin DiMeglio became the first female to play in a high school football game in the state of Florida. But as a starting quarterback, Holly has taken things to another level.
“What was amazing,” Holly says, “was players from the other team after were telling me ‘Congratulations, you made history.'”