I’d Rather Be Wearing Cleats

    As a little girl my mother dreamed about putting me into dance. She pictured me wearing a pink frilly tutu with my hair in a bun dancing gracefully. Unfortunately for her, I don’t like tutu’s nor do I have grace. I was always captivated by football. I watched my favorite teams weekly, and stayed up to date with all of my favorite players (and their scandals). It was a dream of mine to play football, even though I didn’t know any girl that did. I grew up playing every sport you can think of; soccer, basketball, badminton, volleyball, ect. Never football. My parents didn’t want me to play on an all boys team since traditionally they are bigger, faster and stronger. After years of being annoying my parents,I became the first girl in tackle football (in MJMFL) and I was beyond excited. I never took into account that gender might influence the way I would be viewed or talked about.

    It is a windy Friday night sometime in October. I am shivering aggressively, anxious for our warm ups to begin. The lights illuminated the entire field so bright it was practically blinding and the song ‘Thunderstruck’ played loudly in the background. I could feel my heart pounding in excitement and my nerves consumed my entire body. This feeling was normal pre-game and often fueled my drive to win. As we did our dynamics, the referee finally yells “CAPTAINS!”. I immediately wipe all emotion off my face and quickly replace it with a stone cold expression. I think to myself “Act tough and intimidating. Pretend you don’t care and look big”. I jog up alongside my fellow captains (who happen to be all male) and shake hands with the opposing team. Immediately, all the attention is drawn to me and I start feeling self conscious because I know I am not the typical football player. The refs say “Wow it must be hard playing with these guys” and  “a GIRL playing football? Times must be changing” with their brows furrowed looking down at me. I feel my cheeks burn,and I fight the urge to question/yell at them. I feel belittled and weak. I look down and focus on my feet, waiting for this entire interaction to be over.

    In this moment I experienced what it was like being female in an environment that society wants us to believe should be strictly male. At the time, I was absolutely furious but as of right now I’m glad it happened to me. Through this, I built confidence and the desire to prove that a female can do whatever a male can do. With this new found confidence, I wasn’t afraid to take mechanics class or any other shop class I took for that matter. I am proud I am able to say I was the only girl in many classes/sports. I am a strong individual that can do whatever I put my mind to. I think going against the gender ‘norm’ is empowering and I hope I can show my future students that they can do anything they try for.

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