The name is Holly Neher.
She has been a quarterback for the girls flag football team the past two seasons. Neher, with her experience, wanted to raise her game and play with the boys in tackle football.
“I wanted to continue playing the sport so I tried out for the team,” Neher stated. “I knew that I was capable.”
Before the football season began, the junior at Hollywood Hills High School was one of three quarterbacks on the roster competing to be the team’s starter. She was second string behind Ramon James. Neher experienced tackle football for the first time in a scrimmage and trained in the off-season.
“She doesn’t treat this as, ‘I’m a girl on a tackle football team,’” Hollywood Hills coach Brandon Graham stated. “I’m a quarterback on the football team.”
The state of Florida has experienced a girl on the football field before. South Plantation’s Erin DiMeglio became the first to play in a game in Florida. Pine Crest’s Sofia Caro played running back and linebacker a season ago. Nationally, Samantha Grisafe was the first to play quarterback in a varsity game in California in 2000. All are pioneers.
Neher is looking to make a name for herself. She was looking to become the first high school female to start at quarterback in Dade or Broward County before the season began. She did not miss one activity or practice with the boys this past summer.
“She’s like my little sister,” wide receiver Alexander Shelton stated.
Neher has channeled inspiration not far from home. Her mother Paula was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and was given a very small chance to live. The cancer led her to remove both breasts in September 2009. It saved her life.
Holly has a younger sister in Victoria whom she looked over while Paula, a single mom, was going through chemotherapy. Moreover, Holly always stood by her mother to make sure she was okay even shaving her head when she went through chemo. Holly is the goalkeeper on the soccer team with amazing grades academically.
Playing football as a female is secondary to what this family has overcome. “If she does get hit we will go right through it together,” Paula stated.
The season began.
Holly did not become the starter. Be she was first in the state of Florida.
The 16-year-old became the first female high school player in the state to throw a touchdown pass. Holly is only the second girl in the 51-year history of her high school to play on the varsity football team.
When she made that pass the whole crowd went wild and you could see the support from her teammates,’’ assistant principal Erin Brown stated. “We could not be more proud of our students.”
Holly shared she will take anything that comes her way when it comes to football “with open arms.”
“I hope that they all see how small I am and no matter what mindset or color, race, size, gender, you can do anything you want,” she said.
Holly wears number 14. She is breaking a glass ceiling not just in the state of Florida, but nationally where there can be a day when a female quarterback throws to a female wide receiver. The numbers will only go up from this day forward.