"This is going to sound crazy, but I always believed that I was supposed to be the first woman to play Division I football” former Fort Wayne FireHawks kicker Katie Hnida tells FOX Fort Wayne today.
Hnida has accomplished more in her 29-years than many have in a lifetime.
She’s a mentor, best-selling author and most notably a football kicker. Hnida was the first female to not only play in a Division I College Football game, but also to score in one.
"This was something that I wanted so badly” says Hnida.
But reaching that goal wasn't easy. Hnida kicked for the University of Colorado, and took tough tackles on and off the field, being verbally and sexually abused by her teammates.
"I think I was in a state of shock first that I could be treated this way and then I was so perplexed because alot of the abuse would happen with more than one person around” she says.
Hnida fought on, continued the battle, and continued being abused.
"There was a part of me that just started thinking 'ok this is the way it is. You’re just going to have to deal with this'” she says.
But then one night, while over at a teammate's house, her life was forever change. She was raped by a close friend.
"It was absolute hell. I mean, I can't even remember the immediate weeks following, what I did to get through” Hnida says.
Hnida coped by keeping busy and avoided her rapist at all costs. But, she slowly she slipped into a depression. She decided to leave Colorado. Later, she and her parents wrote an email to the chancellor, not about the rape, but about the tough time she encountered on the field. The school continually denied that there were any problems.
"I fell into a depression that was so deep that there were days that I wondered if I was ever actually going to crawl out of it” Hnida says.
She transferred to the University of New Mexico. Things finally started turning around.
Four years after the rape, Hnida decided to tell her story. She became a mentor for young girls and an advocate for sexual abuse awareness.
“It just breaks my heart a little bit more, but it also pushes me to keep on doing this so that there can be that one woman that comes up and says ‘I haven't told anybody, but I'm going to tell you this now because you were up there talking and understand what you were saying. I relate to it’” says Hnida.
Hnida says a piece of her heart broke off the night of the rape, but sharing her experiences helps it to heal.
She says "it's listening to your heart, listening to your gut and knowing that it's never going to lead you the wrong way."
For help and assistance with a sexual abuse situation, college students can contact the IPFW/Parkview Student Assistance Program (personal counseling) at
260-373-8060 or toll free at 1-800-721-8801.
They are located inside the Walb Union (2nd floor, room 210) at IPFW.