Elly Finch has History of Perseverance, Including a Past and Potential Future as a Woman in Football

Elly Finch has History of Perseverance, Including a Past and Potential Future as a Woman in Football

Elly Finch is an up-and-coming thrower on Michigan State’s Track and Field team, but her dreams are bigger than being an athlete. The freshman didn’t always compete in shot put, as her first love was football. Finch had fire for a male-dominated sport, and she found a way to tackle all the obstacles thrown at her.

“Everybody told me, even my coaches of Little League, that, ‘you can’t play football, you’re a girl. You can’t. That’s not for you, you’re too weak or too small. You’re going to get beat up, you’re never going to play’,” Finch said.  “And I was like, ‘don’t tell me that because I have to prove you wrong.'”

Finch was an outstanding student at Royal Oak High, with a 4.0 GPA, All-State track and field student, and school record holder for the discus. She also served as a captain for the varsity football team as a left guard and linebacker.

Finch started off as a cheerleader for her two older brothers’ Little League team. She loved being around her brothers but did not carry that same love for cheer. Her mom, Trish Belanger, took her to a football camp at MSU one summer and as her mom describes it, it was her defining moment.

“She never stopped after that,” Belanger said. “She put those pom poms away.”

Finch started Little League football when she was nine. As high school approached, Finch’s biggest fear was people not accepting her.

“Sometimes it’s hard to still tell myself, ‘you’re good, you deserve to be here,'” she said.

Going into her first year in high school, Finch saw Toni Harris, former college football player and second woman to receive a football scholarship, in a Super Bowl commercial. Knowing Harris’ story motivated her to keep playing.

The COVID-19 pandemic canceled Finch’s freshman year of high school football. She used the time away from football to get stronger, as she consistently was in the weight room.

“I like to look at it as almost a blessing,” Finch said. “I knew that if I didn’t take advantage of the time I had, that I would fall behind and never make it back.”

She was introduced to track and field, the shot put and discus events, during her sophomore year. Between throwing and football, Finch became the star at her high school. She was the first girl to ever play varsity football and her junior year she broke her school record for discus.

High school was nearing the end, and the next stop was college….

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