• Lillie Burke

On gridiron, women more than belles of the ball

It seems that most male dominated sports today actually have a pretty even female counterpart — baseball and softball, men’s and women’s basketball, track, golf, cross country. The list goes on. Notice how football didn’t make the cut.

An extremely physical contact sport, football demands a certain physique—bulky biceps and thundering thighs. There is also a need for mental toughness through both training and game situations. Language is foul, and the stench of game-worn jerseys and cleats is fouler. None of these qualities seem to fit the stereotypical petite, emotional, sweet-smelling, skirt-wearing female.

Female-only football organizations such as the Women’s Football Alliance and the Independent Women’s Football League have been created, but don’t come close to the $9 billion industry lovingly called the National Football League.

That said, I commend the efforts of Jackie Kasburg, Ashley Martin, Lauren Luttrell and Mo Isom for being bold enough to play football as kickers with the guys. It may not be the most prestigious position on a football team, but it can certainly make the difference between winning or losing.

Kasburg, a high school senior, earned the titles of homecoming queen and starting kicker after she outkicked the previous starter—not too shabby for somebody who wears pink cleats.

Martin made NCAA history by becoming the first woman to kick a field goal Division I football game, helping lead Jacksonville State over Cumberland 72-10 by nailing all of her extra point attempts as a kicker.

Luttrell and Isom tried out for Virginia Tech and LSU, both major Division I programs. While neither made the cut, both impressed coaches and fellow players with their ability.

The irony of the stories of all these women is that they never started training for football while young, like most Division I athletes do. I can only imagine that if they had started playing pee wee football with the guys – instead of going to ballet class like I did – how talented they would have become with the right amount of training.

What remains to be seen is if this is simply a fad of rebellious females trying to break stereotypes or if female football will become a sustainable industry. With the right amount of training, knowledge and encouragement, anything is possible.

Granted, while the notion of watching girls play football instead of guys is still hard for me to imagine, I also realize that today females have more opportunities to pursue Division I athletics than ever before. The passion and competitive spirit is just as strong in females as it is males — and on the gridiron, that’s what matters at the end of the day.

Sports editor Katie Greene is a sophomore mass communications major.

#femaleonlyfootball #KatieGreenecolumn

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