Shaw kicker becomes first woman in school and CIAA history to score in football game

Michael Perchick Image
Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Shaw kicker now first woman in school, CIAA history to score in game
EMBED <>More Videos

India Pulphus' kick earned her CIAA Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As India Pulphus trotted onto the field on Saturday afternoon at Durham County Memorial Stadium to attempt an extra point, she tried to stay calm.

"Don't miss -- that was really the big thing. I know I can make them. I know I can," Pulphus recalled, as she homed in on the fundamentals.

The mindset served her well, as the kick sailed through the uprights, marking the first time in both Shaw University and CIAA history that a woman scored a point in a football game.

"I probably have never unironically taken a sigh of relief like that during the game. I just kind of sat there for a quick second. It was just like, 'Thank God it went through,'" said Pulphus.

The sigh of relief was met with excitement from her teammates on the sidelines.

"It's really heartwarming. I really thank the boys and the coaches for being so welcoming and so supportive of me and what I'm doing. Even though we were losing, it was still a really nice moment. The way they were acting, it was like we did win when I kicked it," Pulphus said.

Shaw coach Adrian Jones said the team had previously planned on using Pulphus in the second half of its win over Elizabeth City, but the Bears didn't score in the second half.

For most of Saturday's game against Virginia State, it appeared the wait would be delayed another week. However, with less than a minute left, Silas Cruse scored a 1-yard touchdown, allowing Pulphus to see the field.

"A surreal moment for her to get out there. The sky's the limit," Jones said.

India Pulphus came to Shaw to play soccer and run track, but her football teammates recruited her to join them.

In high school, Pulphus played soccer and ran track, and joined the football team with a friend her senior year. Her experience was included in a Super Bowl commercial, highlighting the contributions of women to the sport.

"I think that was a pinch-me moment out of all of this because it was like, 'wow, a lot more people are seeing this and recognizing this' than I thought they were. It was an eye-opener to see how many and the impact that it had," Pulphus recalled.

She came to Shaw to continue her soccer and track careers, though she decided to ultimately leave the soccer program. Her football teammates recruited her to join them.

"The boys were the first ones to say something and they were like, 'Just talk to Coach,'" said Pulphus.

"When she came out and tried out for us, I saw what she could do," Jones said. "That was the turning point right there. It's great to see her being able to put it on the football field."

Jones added that Pulphus will kick again in Shaw's homecoming game this weekend.

This year, there have been three women to play college football, a trend that Pulphus hopes will continue.

"I'm just glad (young girls) have somebody that they can look up to that is able to show that you can do things that's not necessarily the norm or people have told you you can't do," said Pulphus.

Pulphus' kick earned her CIAA Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

"It means a lot that the game has changed. You do have some females on football teams, but for her to be the first person to score a point, it means a lot," said Jones.

Pulphus added, "I just hope that if more people want to do it, that everybody's open to it. It's not some big like, 'OMG, a girl on the team.' Just to make it more normalized."