If you don’t know Becca’s name, you will. She’s the first female to sign a letter of intent with a Division II level (or higher) college and the first woman to receive a scholarship to play football with the boys.
And guess what? She’s a kicker.
When I wrote Like a Girl, I had a message: YOU CAN.
Like a Girl is about the first female kicker in pro football. People laughed when I said I planned to write a romantic comedy similar to the fun of Jerry Maquire BUT about a female player. And they laughed… right up until Like a Girl released.
I was unprepared for the number of emails I’ve received from women like Becca (no haven’t heard from her) who wanted to play football and had their dreams crushed because the option wasn’t available to girls. I had my dreams crushed as a young girl too. I was told “the police force is no place for a woman” and “girls aren’t allowed to play football.”
If you think about it, football is the only sport that doesn’t offer an alternative woman’s team for kids. WHY? Or in Becca’s case, WHY NOT? Maybe you haven’t heard of Women’s Football Alliance one of several adult leagues for women who love the sport. I’ll admit I didn’t even know they existed until I was deep into researching Like a Girl. These tough women play tackle football and there are leagues all over the world. What if women learned to play football as kids? Most (close to all) pro athletes don’t start their careers as adults. To learn a sport and play it professionally takes years of practice and hard work.
The American Football Without Barriers organization recently sent, Marshawn Lynch, and Cleveland Browns tight end, Gary Barnidge, to Finland to teach their first all-women’s football camp.
To be fair, I visited the Pop Warner Football website to see if girls were playing. I couldn’t find a statement anywhere saying girls can’t play but I also didn’t see a single picture of a girl in uniform or any statement saying they welcome girls. They offer cheerleading and hey, I’m not knocking it. I was a competitive cheerleader and so were my three daughters. But that doesn’t change that my dream was to play football and I was never given the opportunity.
I want to share some of the emails I received about Like a Girl and maybe you’ll see that it’s easy to crush dreams. We need to empower women and girls and never tell them there’s something they can’t do. And yes, that includes playing football Like a Girl.
Shelly ~ “Thank you for writing Like a Girl. I always dreamed of being a football player and was crushed when my parents told me girls don’t play for the NFL.”
Lori ~ “My first dream was to play football but I couldn’t so I moved to soccer.”
Laura ~ “I’ve been a lifelong football fan and wanted to play just like Jordan.”
Tammy ~ “I come from a family of five children and I’m the only girl. My brothers all played football and I cried each year when I couldn’t. I never understood. Thank you for writing Like a Girl because I was able to live my dream through Jordan’s eyes.”
Keep those emails coming ladies. I plan to use them in the sequel: Like A Girl Second Season
If you have time and a Twitter account, please say congrats to Becca Longo and show your support. You will find her Twitter account here.