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I’ll admit it. When my daughter first told me that she intended to join the football team this year, I was a little skeptical. Not so much because she is a girl, but because, until now, she had never played football outside of gym class. Varsity football players are accomplished athletes, and I was a little worried that she was setting herself up for disappointment.
After her first few football practices, my fears seemed to be at least partially confirmed. She struggled to keep up, and the coaches asked her hopefully if she knew how to kick. They had never had a girl on their team before, but there are plenty of girls playing on other football teams — and most of them are in low-contact roles like kickers.
As the summer wore down, however, and the two-a-day practices eased off, my daughter found her position on the team — corner. That’s right, my daughter is playing high school football and she’s on the defense. She can’t kick and she can’t throw, but she can fling herself on top of an offensive player and break up plays with the best of them.
When people hear that my daughter is on the football team, most of them are pretty supportive of her efforts, but many of them also ask me the same question: “Aren’t you a
fraid that she will get hurt?” Since football is a pretty injury-laden sport, it’s a fair question to ask any parent of a football player, but I know that “because she’s a girl” is lurking behind many of their concerns. She’s shorter and smaller than most of her teammates, and she’s flinging herself into piles of boys twice her size. Surely, they ask with concern in their eyes, I must be afraid for her. But fear is the last thing on my mind when I watch her play, and these are the ten reasons why.
1. My daughter may be smaller than the average player, but she also hurls herself into the fray without a second thought. Aggression counts for plenty in football — and in life.
2. My daughter has a twin brother, whom she’s pretty much been beating down since they were in utero. She was born kicking ass.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l06NGucUe6A expand=1]
3. Believe it or not, women aren’t delicate flowers with bones that will crumple under the smallest pressure. She will take plenty of hits and live to tell the tale.
4. My daughter is one of seven children. She knows what she wants and she goes after it like only a child of a large family can.
5. If you’ve ever had the joy of living with a teenage girl, you should worry about the safety of the other players, not her.
She can’t kick and she can’t throw, but she can fling herself on top of an offensive player and break up plays with the best of them.
6. My daughter is motivated not just to play football but to prove that girls can play football, too. She has a lot riding on this, and she isn’t going to do anything to jeopardize it.
7. Going after her wild and crazy dream to play football teaches my daughter that there is no dream too wild and crazy to achieve — and that’s a lesson that’s worth even a broken bone or two.
8. Joining the football team has pushed my daughter into an environment where she and her male teammates are equals and fighting to achieve the same goals. This can only be a good thing for her AND them.
9. Watching my daughter play football has led her younger sister to believe that she can someday play on the Seattle Seahawks. Hard hits can’t touch the impact of those barriers being torn down.
“Every parent is afraid of something happening to their children; that comes with the territory. When we allow our fears to prevent our children from following their dreams, however, we do them a disservice.”
10. Every parent is afraid of something happening to their children; that comes with the territory. When we allow our fears to prevent our children from following their dreams, however, we do them a disservice. Whatever fear that lurks deep inside me pales in comparison to the pride I feel when I watch my daughter don her uniform and play football. Whether her performance on the field is good, bad, or even terrible, she’s already won in my book.
Jody Allan is a freelance writer living in Seattle. Her work has been featured by Time, xoJane, Offbeat Home, and several other publications. She writes about food, family, mothering, and life with a chronic illness.