The ballcarrier looks for a way around the defender. But no matter which way he maneuvers, she counters to head him.
That’s right, SHE.
Brie Steele then completes her tackle. The two players get up, exchange a pat on the back and continue practicing.
Brie played defensive back for the Acton Middle School eighth-grade Gold football team this season. She was also a wide receiver and a kicker.
And she started.
“She’s pretty tough,” said Timothy Johnson, a teammate of Brie’s.
“I could have tried to play volleyball, but I wanted a sport with contact,” said Brie. “I like hitting the boys, and I also like showing them I can take a hit.”
Brie is one of seven girls who began the season playing football at the junior high level in the Granbury ISD, and six of them finished the season. Three started for their respective teams.
So don’t call it a boys game any more.
Four of the girls – Trinity Hathaway, Brooke Osteen, Morgan Randolph and Winter Valle – played for the GMS seventh-grade team:
Trinity was a cornerback for the Gold team (B team).
Brooke was a wide receiver/cornerback for the Gold team.
Morgan played offensive/defensive line for the White team (C team).
Winter was her teammate as a wide receiver/linebacker.
Rhegan Howard was a noseguard for the eighth-grade White Team.
“They’ve proven themselves,” said GMS coach Jeremy Blohowiak. “This is my first year to have a female play football, and that was one of the things that concerned me, would they fit in?”
In fact, Trinity, Brooke and Brie all started for their respective squads.
“There were some small changes like different locker rooms,” said Blohowiak. “We have to make sure the girls stay informed, so no more locker room talk. We talk in the gym.”
AMS coach Jon Allen said Brie is quite simply a good athlete, so fitting in was never a problem.
“She gets knocked down, but she gets right back up,” Allen said. “But she can certainly do some hitting also. Every once in awhile she even gets a chance to get a solo tackle.”
“It’s different. Not many girls play football, and I think it’s pretty cool,” said Alex Luckie, another teammate of Brie. “I played soccer with her. She’s a really good athlete, and she has had a good season.”
Christian Rust at GMS said, “It’s a little weird tackling them, but it’s cool having them on the team. They’re good players.”
Blohowiak said when it came to girls being in football, he answered their question about it with one of his own.
“When a girl would ask ‘Can I play?’ I’d say right back to them ‘Can you play?’
“Like any other kid, if you’re going to come out and expect to just hang out, you can go do something else.”
That has certainly not been the case as each of the girls immediately fit in. And each prefers to be thought of as a football player first and girl second.
“Brie doesn’t want to be treated like the one girl on the team,” said Allen. “She doesn’t want to be singled out.”
Allen believes one reason so many girls played this year can be traced to the success of the high school program. The varsity Pirates are going to the playoffs for a third straight season, and that is encouraging participation.
“Everybody just wants to be part of something successful,” Allen said.
“It also shows that we’re here for every kid to try and do everything they want to do,” said Granbury athletic director Dwight Butler.
“If they’re good enough and they can earn a spot, then they will be on the field. Our objective is to put the best players on the field to represent the team and the community – it doesn’t matter what gender they are.”
“We had a girl in Big Spring who played all the way through her senior year.”
At least one of the girls, Rhegan, would like to play in high school.
“This is uncharted waters for me, but from Day One since I’ve been here we’ve been open to any comers,” said varsity head coach Scotty Pugh. “We’re going to put the best players on the field, and that’s open to anybody.
“It’s impressive to see these girls playing.”
GMS player Daniel Hendrix said he applauds the girls for proving they can play alongside the boys. He also said it provides some inspiration for himself.
“I like seeing the girls prove they are just as athletic as us,” he said. “It kind of pushes us to think before we say or do something also.
“Honestly, I don’t think football is just a guys sport anymore.”
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