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Archive for Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Bulldog shows game isn’t just for the boys

November 1, 2006

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Spectators couldn't tell just by looking, but more than just boys took the field during Sunday's Toy Bowl.

Her curly hair was cropped close to her head beneath her helmet, and she wore the same shoulder pads and cleats as her male teammates.

The only thing that stood out was her name. It is not everyday a football coach hollers, "Get in there, Katie!"

For Katie Jones and the fifth-grade Baldwin Bulldogs, though, that is a normal occurrence.

Katie is in her second year of football, proving her parents wrong, bucking stereotypes and doing what she loves.

Though Katie's father, Bret, said her first sport is basketball, Katie said she plays football because it's just another game she likes.

Bret said he wouldn't let her play when she was younger, but she was insistent and he decided to give her a chance.

"I was kind of expecting she'd find out it wasn't as much fun when she got out there and started getting hit," Bret said. "But she's a tough little girl."

Katie may have gotten some of her toughness and athleticism from her mother, Joni, who Bret said played volleyball in college.

However, Katie doesn't share her mother's taste in her choice of sport.

"She says the volleyball hurts her arms," Bret said. "She'll go out there and get tackled without a problem, though.

Bret said his daughter was not afraid, nor intimidated by her male teammates or opponents.

As a father, on the other hand, Bret said he had been worried about Katie on the field before.

"She'd been practicing as a cornerback, but her first game they sent her out as a defensive tackle," Bret said. "It was a little scary to see my 73-pound daughter lined up against one of the biggest kids on the other team."

Katie wasn't bothered, though. She got a kick out of making a big hit on a boy and getting some words of encouragement from the coach.

"He'll say, 'Oh, yeah!'" Katie said.

And when that happened, earning respect from her teammates wasn't an issue.

"Since we're all a team, we have to treat each other with the same respect," she said.

Katie's father agreed.

"They don't treat her any different," Bret said. "It's nice to see kids tolerant and respectful of one another."

Katie, who takes her turn on special teams, defensive line, or once in a while as the fullback, is, at any given time, one of the smaller players on the field.

Despite her willingness to play anywhere at any time, she doesn't start and she doesn't get the most playing time. But neither of those developments mattered to her.

"She's never come home and complained," Bret said. "She understands why she's there."

Bret said the main thing she has going for her is effort.

"I coached high school football for a dozen years and that's all I ever asked of them," Bret said. "She's pretty tenacious."

That tenacity gets put to the test every day on the playground, when Katie joins her friends, most of whom happen to be boys, for a variety of games.

Her love of sports and her handling of all of the adversity needed could be summed up in only a few words as far as Katie was concerned.

"It's just fun," she said.

And that was good enough reason for her father to let her continue playing.

"She's just in there because she loves the game," Bret said.

Comments

mom_of_three 8 years, 1 month ago

There have been girls who have played Lawrence youth football in years past. One was a starting receiver. My daughter played one year in 4th grade, and boy, did she love to tackle. Wasn't able to play the next year.

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