Video By Aboubacar Okeke-Digane
While girls at the Academy get to participate in organized football once a year for the annual Powder Puff Games, senior Ceci Reyes has taken her passion for Football to a new level. After years of wishing to be a part of the team, Reyes’ dream has finally come true, and she is an inspiration for female athletes everywhere.
Read her Op/Ed below, titled “One of the Guys,” published in The Governor on October 15, 2010.
One of the Guys
By Ceci Reyes, ’12
When I was younger, I would go tothe park everyday and play flag football with the boys in my neighborhood. Although the word “flag” is clearly placed before “football,” there was always a great deal of contact. Completely disregarding the actual rules of the game, everyone would just pounce on whomever had the ball. As soon as it would start to get dark, we would all run home and agree to meet again the next day, to do the same thing. Before dinner, I would sit in the bathtub and admire the bruises left on my knees and elbows. Already at the age of five, I was “one of the guys.” Eleven years later, and not much has changed; I am still one of the boys.
Since my freshman year, I have been dying to play on the football team. After two years of annoying and begging, I finally got my wish. When I put all of my equipment on for the very first time, I was shocked as to how heavy the helmet was and how much harder it was to run in all of the gear. My helmet alone felt like it weighed thirty pounds and underneath the padding, I felt completely immobile. It took me a while to get used to it all. (I still don’t feel 100% comfortable in it but you have to fake it ‘til you make it, right?)
Before my first official day of practice, I assumed I was going to go out there and “just straight up wreck people.” Clearly, I had forgotten that there were actual rules in football that players must follow. (And apparently, there are actual techniques on tackling that one must learn in order to be successful when trying to complete said task.) I felt pretty confident in the beginning, but slightly out of place. When playing football, guys have no problem going hard when taking each other out. Throw a girl in the mix, and everything changes. I went days without getting tackled. Right away, my theory was proven to be correct: while on the playing field, the majority of guys will never consider girls to be at the same level. No matter how much trash I would talk and how many easy shots I would take, everyone refused to hit me. I didn’t understand why I appeared so fragile to them and it irritated me.
The first time I actually got hit, (thanks, Kase) it reminded me of when I was younger and the boys I played with saw me as one of them, rather than as a girl they should go easy on. At that moment, I hoped that everyone else would catch on and realize that I was out there by choice. I wanted and was able to take a hit. At this point, I have had three solid weeks of practice; each day, learning something new. Although I am not as skilled and “beastly” as I originally thought I was, I see myself developing into one “mean machine” pretty soon.
Little by little, I feel the target on my back labeled “DELIC ATE ” slowly disappearing. By the end of this experience, I hope to be seen as a regular player, not just a girl. I also hope for this to be some sort of an inspiration to others girls who want to do something they have been told they are not capable of doing.
Ceci is officially the JV Football team manager, but has been practicing with the team. As of yet, she has not played in a game. Because Govs is a private school, it is not completely bound to the rules set by Title IX, but it does stand by similar regulations by ensuring that there is an equal number of sports offered for both male and female athletes. The ISL lists a few sports as co-ed, but football is not one of them. Ultimately, the ISL would not allow a girl to compete in a league game because other schools might object to it.