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Groundbreaking football player signs to play in college

Shelby Osborne signed her letter of intent. Shelby Osborne signed her letter of intent.
Shelby Osborne Shelby Osborne
Shelby's mother, Kim Shelby's mother, Kim
Julie Strange Julie Strange
Lonnie Oldham Lonnie Oldham

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - All across Kentuckiana, high school seniors are making their final college plans. A graduating senior in Jeffersonville has plans that include breaking barriers.

Some kids grow up with football in their blood. Shelby Osborne isn't one of them.

"Honestly we were an anti football family, like we never watched football," she said.

But her time at Jeffersonville High School took her to a game or two and during the sectional matchup with Castle a couple of years ago, she was frustrated.

"We were making some mistakes and stuff and I was on the sideline and I yelled, 'I can play better than that!'" she said.

Osborne decided to join the team.

Head football coach Lonnie Oldham had coached a girl on his team before. When Osborne came to him he said, "If you can play and you want to play, I don't cut anybody so come on out and if you can make it and do what everybody else does, then you can play."

Throughout her senior year, Osborne was just one of the guys

"She's a football player and that just seems normal which is, maybe seems strange," said Jeffersonville High School Principal Julie Strange.

But, her parents didn't know about her football plans until much later.

Her mother, Kim, said, "I couldn't figure out why she wouldn't let us come to her games. She was afraid that her dad would end up in a scuffle and she knew that I would find out that she wasn't just the kicker."

At only 5'6", Osborne broke the mold for female football players by lining up -- not as the kicker -- but at defensive back. Now she's breaking it again by trying to do the same thing in college.

Her coach had his doubts. "I was like there's no way that this girl is going to be able to play in college and you don't want to shoot anybody's dreams down but I had a conversation with Shelby and I said, 'Shelby it's going to be really tough for you to find anybody to take you,'" Oldham said.

Osborne says she wrote coaches all over. "Every school in Kentucky, I had some from Florida, North Carolina," she said, but when they found out she was a girl, the response was the same. "No more emails, no more calls, no more anything," she said. "Just cut off."

Until a recruiting trip to Campbellsville University, which led to a big moment Wednesday when Osborne signed her letter of intent to play for the Tigers.

She is a ground-breaker in so many ways.

"You can't ever make an excuse," Osborne said. "No matter how you feel, no matter how what, you have to be there on-time, do everything the coach asks you, never say because I'm a girl and never complain."

Her principal says with that attitude, she's a role model as well.

"To other girls I think it does say there aren't those boundaries that we always thought were there in lots of different places," Straight said.

Thanks to grants and other scholarships, Osborne will have to pay less than 20 percent of the tuition to attend Campbellsville.

She says she gets a lot of messages on her Instagram account from other female football players or other girls trying to blaze trails where mostly boys walk now.

Copyright 2014 WAVE 3 News.  All rights reserved.

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