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The first female football player, a forgotten story from Atmore, Alabama

Traditionally, football has always been considered a boy’s sport, but a young girl at Escambia High in Atmore, Escambia County, Alabama challenged this practice when she became the first female to score in an American football game in 1939 and in 1940.


Luverne Wise Albert

Luverne wise

“Luverne “Toad” Wise became the kicker for the Atmore (now Escambia County) Alabama High School Blue Devils in 1939 and 1940 after she and several other girls watching on the sideline grumbled that the school spent lavishly for boys’ athletics but nothing for girls.”

Coach Andrew Edington told the girls that nothing in the rules prevented them from playing and four decided to try out. He handed them a football to kick and told them he would put them in a scrimmage.

Coach Edington figured that would run the girls off, but when he noticed Luverne Wise kick with fluidity, he got an idea: He would teach her to kick extra points and she would pack the stadium.

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Life magazine, movie newsreels, and newspapers across the nation carried stories on the smiling, bare-legged kicker who wore a white blouse, a blue skirt and no pads. Escambia High promoted her appearances on posters and in flyers, and busloads of fans came from as far as New Orleans, 180 miles away, to see her.

Later in life, “Luverne Wise became an excellent golfer, but she seldom participated in sports after high school,” said her widowed husband Tony Albert in 1985. Luverne died from a heart attack at age 60 in 1982. The couple ran an Atmore sporting goods store for 39 years until her death.

Pictured,  Susan Moorhead, left, and Toni McMurphy display their mom Luverne Wise-Albert’s uniform and cleats as well as a picture of her when she served as the ECHS place kicker in the early 1940s.

daughters of Luvern Wise Atmore, Alabama

The couple’s daughters, Susan Moorhead and Toni McMurphy, said “ their mother made the team as a kicker, despite never having kicked before.”

“It wasn’t until later that the women realized the significance of what their mother accomplished. Moorhead said she believes her mom was the first female football player in the country.”

Luverne was inducted into Atmore Area Hall of Fame in June 2011.

SOURCES

  1. Los Angeles Times November 21, 1985
  2. Atmore Advance
  3. Wikipedia

Check out all books by Donna R. Causey

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me
All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
She has authored numerous genealogy books.
RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2)
is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series)
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1)
is the continuation of the story. .
For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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12 comments

  1. Thanks so much for making this available for all of us to enjoy. I am so very proud of my Mom and love sharing this history with her great grandchildren. ( my grandchildren) I am the 2nd of her three daughters. I hope this story will always be kept alive.
    Rita Peterson

  2. This is my great aunt! Thanks for the article and the video! What a treat for our family to be able see Toad in action!

  3. Bob Wilson

    Coach Edington’s brother David was pastor of the church I grew up in…:)

  4. […] While Kyle may have made history with his backwards trick kick, there’s another kicker that’s probably the most unlikely kicker in the history of football because the kicks were done in a skirt! A girl named Luverne “Toad” Wise Albert at Escambia High (Atmore, Alabama) became the first female to score in an American football game in 1939/1940… as a kicker. She, as Kyle has, gained national attention in Life magazine, movie newsreels and newspapers across the country with articles and pictures of her bare legs kicking a football, wearing a white blouse tucked in a blue skirt – and no pads. You can read more about her story on Alabama Pioneers. […]

  5. Love this story – so much so that I included it in my blog post today about kickers! I credited Alabama Pioneers. It’s on my website. I love sports, especially football and this story is amazing – my mom was/is a girl’s basketball coach for nearly 40 years now… thanks for posting this story!

    1. Thanks for sharing it on your blog post.

  6. Jon Byrd

    Wow. And the sky did not fall.

  7. Freida L. Moore

    Thanks for this share Robin

  8. A wonderful, inspiring article for today’s young women for whom all avenues of life are possible. “Toad” and her husband Tony were very close friends of my parents, while growing up in Atmore, Alabama in the ’60’s. Thanks for posting the article and the infamous reel footage. Also, super pic of Susan and Toni!

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