You’ve just sat down to watch a football game at the Woodland School in Portola Valley, California. The players are in a huddle with their coach, reviewing plays before starting. They run out on to the field and the crowd cheers. However, this isn’t your average tackle football team. The team is all boys — almost.
What’s different is that there are three girls on the playing field.
For 8th grader and three-time GLI Summer Camper Kyra DiMarco, one of the female football players at the school, playing flag football has been a passion for the past few years. She started out as a coach’s assistant in the fall of 2011 and ended up playing defensive end and on the offensive line for her team for the past season and a half.
For those of you (like me) not familiar with flag football terms, the role of the offensive lineman (or linewoman in this case) is to protect the quarterback and buy time for him or her to find an open receiver. Defensive end, the other position Kyra plays, requires her to pull the flag of the quarterback before he makes a pass or a run. Kyra was asked by the coach if she wanted to play and, being the confident girl everyone knows her to be, she said yes.
According to Kyra, she was in a good situation. No one said she couldn’t play, and everyone supported her. She admits that it took the male players a while to adjust to her being on the team, but once they saw her strong playing skills – they accepted her and treated her like she was a guy.
During games, Kyra gets a lot of playing time. The coach doesn’t put her in longer to please people, he puts her in because she’s good. Luckily, Kyra’s female peers are also comfortable with her being a player on the football team.
Not only that, they think it’s really cool.
The game begins and Kyra is starting as a defensive lineman. You notice the opposing player that’s she is defending against is going easy on her- clearly skeptical that she’s any kind of “threat.” Kyra shrugs this off and is determined to prove to him that girls can play rough too. The next couple of plays, Kyra keeps the pressure on until he eventually realizes Kyra will not relent and begins to play like he is defending a boy.
Kyra hopes that by playing for the Woodland School’s football team she will inspire younger girls at her school to play also. She recognizes that she plays for a small private school with only a small audience watching, but she hopes that more females will try out for the football team at bigger schools with larger audiences.
Kyra has always been confident and determined when pursuing her dreams.
Kyra says that being on the football team has made her even more confident. According to Kyra, when she walks on the field and the other team notices that she’s a girl, they immediately think it will be easy to beat her. Kyra loves the feeling she gets when she proves them wrong.
“I like the feeling of surprising the other team when I show them what I can do,” Kyra says. “It makes me feel strong and powerful.”
When asked if she had any fears prior to joining the team, she replied that she was a little scared of getting hurt. After her first game, however, Kyra was assured that she was going to be okay.
All athletes have a moment they consider to be the best of their career. For Kyra, her best moment in football was when she knocked over an opposing male player who was bigger than she was. When she’s not playing football, Kyra is watching the ESPN College Game Day and Sunday NFL, as well as acting, singing, or playing the piano.
Kyra has discovered that you can do anything you set your mind to, and that girls are just as capable as boys to play football. Hopefully, by playing the game, she will achieve her goal of inspiring other females to play as well.