Pat Palinkas, first female football player, calls Clearwater home

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A Clearwater woman is an avid football fan, which makes sense, considering she is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the first female football player in history.

Pat Palinkas was a holder for a placekicker, who happened to be her husband, Steve, in 1970. She has since held a place in the history books. He was an aspiring kicker with the Orlando Panthers, and needed someone to hold the ball when he was practicing.

"I was a trailblazer and I'm very, very proud of that," Pat said to FOX 13.  "To make that kind of history warms my heart. I couldn't believe it was me out there."

Steve tried out for the Orlando Panthers, and Pat was his holder. The team signed the duo, making her the first female to play football. Steve and Pat only played that single season in 1970. They went on to make appearances on TV shows. Even her name was fitting -- she said it stood for "point after touchdown."

For her first game, the first kick didn't go so well, and Steve was tackled. After that, she proved why she belonged.

"I turned, got ready for it, and I looked at to my dear husband and said, 'Are you ready, honey?'" Pat recalled. "Walter Cronkite kind of made a big deal out of it. He said you're never going to hear those words again."

Steve has since passed away. Pat keeps his memory alive and remembers their time together on and off the field. 

"My husband said, 'I'm so glad to have married Pat -- to have and to hold," she said with a laugh. Today, her family is part of a fantasy football league, called "All in the Family."

Pat said her name is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, but will soon hand over her original uniform.

"I'm very proud that I was able to break the barrier. I truly believe that women can do anything they want to do if they want to do it, and don't be afraid," she said. "Don't ever be afraid of anything. Take the challenge in life and do it."