By: Becky Shaffer
Julia Taylor-Worthington Wolves
1939, the year my Mom was born, history was also being made. Not that my Mom isn’t history, but we are talking about girls playing football. Luverne “Toad Wise kicked six extra points for the Escambia County (Alabama) High School football team. In 1943, Annes Risner of New Castle High School in Indiana had two point-after-touchdown attempts for the football team. Unfortunately, she missed them both. In November of 1947, Post-World War II era, the first girl known to have played high school football was Frankie Groves of Stinnett High School in Texas played in an entire game versus Groom High School. Soon after the game, Texas high school sports ruling body banned girls from playing high school football—a band that would not be lifted until 1993.
In 1973, history was made and Title IX passed allowing girls to play in all sports that are offered for boys. This led to many girls playing football. Today we have very few brave girls playing boys football, the stigma keeps many away and the attitude of “football is a boys sport” detours girls as well.
I am featuring a young lady by the name of Julia Taylor this week. She is a classmate of my son Hayden, but most importantly, she is one of Hayden’s teammates on his football team. I admire her as a mom from the stands as a 7th grade girl, playing football with the boys and more than anything, I admire these young men for how they have accepted Julia as one of them. It has never mattered to them that Julia is a girl. Now in 8th grade, Julia returns for year two and below is her story, told from her:
“I get asked why I play football a lot. The reason I play football is because to me football is truly the only sport I feel so strongly about. My friends always ask me after practice what we did and I tell them the sprints we ran, the drills and stations which seem to shock them because they think it is so much running and exercise. Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely a lot of running, but it doesn’t feel like it because I want to do it. I want to do all of the running to get better, because it’s for the sport I love.
I used to play soccer and I quit in 7th grade. I didn’t realize I could really love a sport as much as I do with football. In the soccer season I just didn’t feel like I wanted to get better and put in effort to practice at home. But when I went to football it was a different story. I will go home and stretch, do ladders, lift weights, practice catching, you name it and I probably did it. I wish more girls would play football, not because I don’t want to be the only one who plays. I could care less being the only girl. It’s because football gets labeled as a sport for guys only, but it really isn’t. Girls can play the sport as well as guys or even better. It’s just because everyone thinks of it as a guy sport that girls who want to try don’t because they think its “not popular” or “weird” because you are the only girl. But it is the complete opposite. Being the only girl is perfectly fine and if you want to do something no matter if it’s a sport or not, do it because if you are passionate about what it is, it shouldn’t even matter about who else does it. All of my teammates and coaches treat me like family and I feel right at home. I love them like brothers. Most importantly, I have the parents support in the stands and I have the support of my own family. It is 2015 and I am setting a trend in Worthington, Ohio. Bring it on, I am a girl who plays football and I am courageous, brave and loving every minute of it”.