A New Trend of Female Football Players
When a woman finds her way into a stereotypical “men’s” activity and is recognized for her legitimate involvement, a phrase is often tossed out, maybe as a protective arm is swung over her shoulder: “She’s just one of the guys!” But if role models like April Goss and Erin DiMeglio start a trend, hopefully one day soon women can remain ‘one of the girls,’ even among her male peers.
If you haven’t heard of them, Goss and DiMeglio are female football players, two of only a handful of women in the history of high school, college and professional sports to see gender lines cross on the football field. Goss is a backup kicker for Kent State University and kicked for her Pennsylvania high school as a junior and senior. Ohio’s Akron Beacon Journal reports that Goss is the first women to try out for Kent State in school history, much less make it as a walk-on.
“[I’ve gotten some] weird looks and some whispering, but that’s something you just have to block out,” Goss said in the April 2012 article. “If you really want to do something, nothing else matters.”
As for DiMeglio, The New York Times profiled her on Sept. 2 as a backup quarterback for South Plantation High School in Florida. When her throws became too much for her girls’ flag football team to handle, the football coach invited her to throw at practice with the boys. She proved herself to a third-string position, potentially the first girl to do so at a Florida high school.
If images of women playing football in bras and panties or butch, muscular She Hulks come to mind, you should know that Goss and DiMeglio fall in neither category. Though DiMeglio’s coach notes, “She’s not the kind of girl that’s going to worry about splitting a nail,” he also reminds readers that not all football players are rough and buff. “This isn’t a knock on Erin, but she’s bigger than 10 kids on my team,” South Planttion coach Doug Gatewood said in the New York Times article. “I have a wide receiver that weighs 25 pounds less than her. And the pads she wears are the same as the pads he wears.”
Being tackled and heckled aren’t the only dangers female football players face. Katie Hnida, the first woman to play and score points in a NCAA Division One football game, was sexually harassed and raped at the University of Colorado where she played as a kicker. Instead of throwing in the towel, Hnida transferred to the University of New Mexico and played for three more seasons, and in 2010 she became the first woman to play professional arena football with the Fort Wayne FireHawks of the Continental Indoor Football League.
Women are also making a difference on the sidelines this football season. The first female line judge to referee a professional game, Shannon Eastin, will hopefully see regular-season play, even if an NFL referee lockout is settled and male refs return to their jobs.
Eastin, Hnida, Goss and DiMeglio are heroes for every girl who had to stop her sports career at playing catch with her dad in the backyard and for every girl who was told she couldn’t try out for the team because she wasn’t strong enough, or couldn’t possibly be as good as a man.
Two, four, six, eight! With sincerity, YOU’RE who we appreciate.
What do you think of women entering traditionally “male” spaces in sports? Leave us a comment and share!
Written by Lauren Slavin