Despite Misguided Ridicule, Women Keep Proving Worth in All Facets of Football

When I was eight years old, my twin brother tried out for youth football. I was jealous. I wanted to play, too. I had tagged along with my brothers and their friends, playing tackle football in vacant yards behind schools and other office buildings. I knew I was good enough, if not better than some of the other boys on his team. I knew I was tough enough, too. But my parents didn’t let me try out. They thought it was too rough. I resented them for that, for not even giving me the chance.

Still, I went to all of my brother’s games. During one pee-wee game, I noticed something different about one of the opposing players. She was a girl. She was the starting running back, and she was making players miss all over the field. My heart swelled with envy. But also, gratitude. At least there’s one out there, I thought. Showing them we can play this game, too.

Football is essentially just another game. There is no rhyme or reason as to what draws us to one or the other, no matter what gender we may be. For me, football has always been intriguing. I like the rapid pace, the strategy, the few seconds of anticipation before every play. It takes a certain toughness and confidence to play football, something I always felt I had to prove growing up—that I was just as tough and confident as my two brothers and their friends. I had to prove to them I could play. Every time I step on the field now to play in my two-hand-touch co-ed league, I still have to prove it.

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