Shannon Davis Rutherford
Class of 2019

Shannon Davis Rutherford

Shannon Davis Rutherford never met a challenge she didn’t accept. It’s what drove her to have a great softball career at Athens High and Calhoun Community College, compete in marathons and also have a brief career as a quarterback in professional football.

It also allowed her to be inducted into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame. Rutherford will be inducted into the Hall at its banquet June 8. She said it was something she never expected. “I was shocked and really beside myself, actually,” Rutherford said. “It’s not something I’ve ever thought would happen to me.”

Rutherford’s softball career in the early 1990s, which included state championships at both Athens and Calhoun, was great enough. But it’s what she did after high school that showed the type of person she really is.

It led her from the softball field in Athens to the football field in Minneapolis, Minnesota, playing quarterback for the Minnesota Vixens. So how did she get there?

“It’s an interesting story,” Rutherford said. “I always pushed myself every year do to something challenging. So I ran some marathons. I had just finished a marathon in Huntsville, and was watching the news, and there was a report on the WPSL (Women’s Professional Football League). So I called the news

station and got information about where the tryouts were. I went down to one of the tryouts in Florida and made the first cut, so they invited me to the next round of tryouts in Minneapolis, and I made the team.”

Rutherford was working for NASA at the time, so in order to move to Minnesota and play for the Vixens, she applied for a full-time study position at NASA. That allowed her to work on her master’s degree at the University of Minnesota. “God’s hand was in everything,” Rutherford said. “I was blessed to be able to do two things at once.”

The Women’s Professional Football League was full-contact football played with college rules, and Rutherford quickly had to get used to getting hit and getting hit a lot.

“It was a lot of fun, but it was always very stressful,” she said. “I had never played any contact sports. This was the first time I had done that, and it was really physical. That was a new thing to learn, getting hit and how to rebound from getting hit. It was very challenging, but it was a lot of fun.”

Rutherford’s coach at Athens, Randy White, said he was not surprised to see Rutherford playing tackle football. “She was the type of kid you didn’t tell her she couldn’t do something,” White said. “She would always prove you wrong for sure. I remember she came by the school to borrow some shoulder pads and a helmet, and said she was trying out for a football league. I’m telling you, you just didn’t tell Shannon no. She liked a challenge and was very good at it.” Rutherford said the football league was just another way for her to push herself to the limit and take on a big challenge. “Every year I wanted to do something that took me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to my limits,” she said. “As soon as I finished the marathon that day and saw that news report (on the football league), I thought that would be the next great challenge for me the next year.”

Nowadays, Rutherford has a new challenge. Living in Madison and retired from NASA, Rutherford has the pleasure of playing mom to a very active daughter. “My daughter is full force into three different sports, so I’m traveling back and forth from school to ball fields,” she said. “It’s a different challenge, but it’s just as much fun.”