Meet Shelby Osborne, College Football’s First Female Defensive Back

Have you ever heard of Shelby Osborne? Whether you have, or haven’t, you’ll thank me for writing this.

For those who haven’t heard of Shelby, she is the first female college football player to play a position other than kicker.  Playing as a defensive back, Shelby  recently signed with Campbellsville University in Kentucky. I recently had the absolute pleasure of getting to interview Shelby on GridironBeauties Radio along with my cohost, Oscar Lopez. Needless to say, the conversation was enlightening and inspiring.


It’s funny when you talk to someone but you haven’t officially “met” them. You would think it would be hard to get a sense for who that person is and what they’re about. That’s not the case with Shelby. She knows who she is and what she’s about and she isn’t about to apologize for any of it. Nor should she. Full of drive, focus, and faith, Shelby is a well-spoken women who thrives on pushing herself, working hard, dreaming big, and proving others wrong. Perhaps what struck me the most however was Shelby’s decsion to never take no for an answer.

Shelby has a love and a passion for football, a game she says changed her life. She describes the slightly unconventional beginning of her journey saying,

“It began two years in my junior year. I was at the sectional championships against a team that we should have been able to keep up with and everything and we really weren’t playing to the best of our ability that we were able to do. I was in the stands and I got a little heated and angry. I started screaming I could play better than that and that’s kind of what started it all, it planted the seeds of the thought that grew to what this is now.”

Shelby ended up going to her high school coach in Lafayette, Indiana, introducing herself, and told him she wanted to play. He responded saying, “If you can play, I’ll play you.” I don’t know Shelby well, but from what I do know of her, I’m sure that sounded an awful lot like a challenge whether the coach meant it to or not. A challenge she accepted and overcame.

One of the things I loved most about Shelby was her positive attitude and focus. She knows what others think of her dream. In her words, “They say if people aren’t laughing at your dreams they aren’t big enough.”

She knows there are people out there scoffing and rolling their eyes. She knows they doubt her and her abilities. For Shelby though,  all that doubt simply encourages her to work harder, focus more, and keep faith. She takes the negativity “with a grain of salt” and takes that focus with her straight to game day.


So what’s it like to be a woman on gridiron? Like any other player, Shelby has a routine she follows that helps her get ready for the game. For the entire day, she turns her phone off, she doesn’t listen to anyone, and doesn’t let anyone talk to her. She stays in her head to get herself prepared for what she’s going to face and turns on her pump-up music. Without fail, Shelby also reads a sports themed devotional before every game. One of her favorite Bible verses is more evidence that shows  she knows the trials are coming, but she’s willing to stand in the midst of them. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us who can be against us ~Romans 8:31.”

Shelby knows the road she’s traveling is hard and that her dreams aren’t going to just be handed to her.  She takes pride in being an athlete that trains harder than anybody else and it’s that insane work ethic that’s helped her make history.

Just in case you’re curious, Shelby’s daily schedule goes a little something like this:

  • Get up everyday at 4 am to run
  • Go to school (sports performance and weight lifting classes)
  • Go to football practice after school
  • Stay after practice for an hour to an hour and a half to working with the coaches to improve technique, speed, agility, and playbook
  • Hits the weight room, run on the track, and do stairs
  • Go home and do core workout
  • Do homework for college level classes
  • Go to bed (finally)


Another great thing about Shelby is that she doesn’t just focus on bettering herself physically. She’s a well-rounded individual who is very involved in her community and school. Shelby has 2 jobs and 14 extracurricular activities including: a national champion in bible quiz and a national’s debate qualifier, and being very involved in theater. She was a Thespian officer, in the Thespian Honor Society, and did technical acting and theater. If all that weren’t enough, Shelby also serves as a peer tutor, and participates in community outreach.

When asked about Shelby, her high school coach said, “She doesn’t take “no” very well,” something Shelby explained saying,

“I don’t take people saying I can’t do stuff very well at all, that is so true. My whole family says it, everyone says it. If you say it’s not possible for me to do something, I’ll find a way to achieve what you said I cannot do. So really like all these people saying I won’t be able to do it, it’s more motivation than tearing me apart. You can say all you want about me but you can try to tear me apart but really you’re just building me up.”


Like anyone, Shelby has three football players she looks up to and watches.

First and foremost on that list is Katie Hnida. Katie was a placekicker for the University of New Mexico Lobos football team who made history when she became the first woman to score in a Division I-A game.

“Her and I have been in constant contact since all of this has been going down, Shelby Says.  She’s been texting me that if I ever need anything I can talk to her and stuff. She’s an amazing person.”

Second on that list is none other than football player,  Tim Tebow.

“He kept faith no mater what and he stayed true to himself and didn’t let anything even when the pressure was on him to deter his faith.”

Lastly,  Shelby looks up to Seattle Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman. Shelby loves the Seattle Seahawks, specifically their defense. She even called their Super Bowl win last winter despite much ribbing from friends and teammates. Inspired by his incredible talent and drive, Shelby had this to say to say about Sherman:

“He proves himself on the field and off the field. He wants to be the best he can be on and off. He had a 4.0 at an extremely good academic school. He came from Compton, which was known for the worst schools in the country. He proved himself being top of his class. Had top honors. He proves that you can’t just be good at one thing. He wants to be the best person he can be, full circle and well rounded. I love Seattle defense, best defense in the league in my personal opinion. That’s who I watch the whole season. If I wanted to learn to get better I watch Richard Sherman and how he floats on the field.”


Fears are a powerful entity. They can hold you back and prevent you from achieving. Sometimes if an individual is aware of what they are afraid of, they can prevent themselves from falling into that trap. Other times, they fall in anyway. Take the fear of failure for example. Some people are so afraid of failing that they never try,because if you don’t try you can’t fail, right? Sure it’s logical (in a way), but it’s also the coward’s way out of life. In trying not to fail, you fail to follow your dreams and achieve anything. That’s why Shelby isn’t afraid of failure. She’s afraid of not trying. Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” That’s why Shelby pushes herself and her limits. She wants to see what she’s capable of and that can only happen with trying. She would have never known if she could play football if she hadn’t gone to the coach and tried. She might have failed. But she didn’t. She made the team and she’s made history. All because she ignored fear and simply. . .tried.


For now, Shelby is enjoying the journey, but her long-term plans include of course, sports. Some day, she’d like to be an athletic trainer because she has such a passion for sports. In typical Shelby fashion, she’s already geting some practice, by doing the majority of the wrapping on the track team. She’s fascinated by it all and she says it allows her to stay on the sidelines and be around what she loves the most- sports.


By following her dreams and not taking no for answer, Shelby has inspired many, especially girls, to also follow their dreams and not let fear or what others might say about it stand in their way. She’s an exceptional person and I personally can’t wait to see where this journey will take her. I can’t tell the future, but one thing I can tell you is that wherever Shelby ends up and whatever she decides to do, she is going to be a champion. She won’t accept anything less. I dare you to tell her she won’t be.

Thanks for reading! Questions? Comments? Tweet me @PatsFanGirl12. I welcome all conversations in 140 characters or less.

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