Equality On and Off the Field

     At this day and age it is very common to find women in positions previously thought of as a “man’s job,” and that is very obvious in our Lake Shore football teams. There are currently three female players in total on the freshman and junior varsity teams.

    Nicole Lorenz, freshman, has been playing for three years. She currently plays, “…defensive nose guard [and] defensive tackle,” Lorenz position also includes doing, “…kick return, extra point, and jumbo offense.” This is relatively new to Lake Shore due to the fact that women typically are the kicker. Lorenz started playing because, “I have always enjoyed watching the sport on T.V. but I wanted to play the sport so I could inspire other girls in the future.” As a result of football being considered a male-driven sport women do not typically participate in the sport. Therefore women are also treated differently and Lorenz agreed, “Yes my teammates treat me differently. They always push me around, try to be “my boss” and they sometimes refuse to participate in a drill/warm up with me because I’m a girl.” She continued saying, “…they don’t want to go against me because I’m a girl and they are afraid that they will hurt me.” Lorenz is a strong player and is aware of what she signed up for, so this limitation is offensive and hurtful.

    Kylie Perkins, freshman, is another women on the football team and this is her first year playing football. Perkins positions that she plays are, “defensive back and slot.” She said the reason she wanted to play was, “I love football, I always have and I wanted to give it a try.” Perkins’ passion for football was all she needed to push her into the sport. Moreover, she worked hard for her position, Perkins went to almost every single workout before the season started. She stated, “I was one of the first freshman girl to join this year’s football team.”

    When asked what is it like to have a female player, Phil Cerrasco, English teacher and junior varsity coach, said, “I think it’s cool. I like when people go against expectations and stereotypes.” Football is known to be a male-driven sport, so finding a female in this sport is very uncommon. He continued to say, “ I feel like I do treat them differently even though I try not too.  I am always aware of the physicality of the game and the differences between male and female athletes at this age and attempt to not put the girls in unsafe situations.” The physicality is evident in this sport and can be worrisome, however, the girls know what they signed up for. Cerrasco knew this and commented, “On the other hand, it is our job as coaches to prepare them for aggressive and physical play; so, I am aware that they are girls but try to treat them the same.”  As a coach he unintentionally treats the women differently, he also notices other players treating them differently due to the fact that they are girls. He noted, “I do notice them being treated differently. This year I saw one of our girls get knocked down on her back from an opposing player.  When she came off the field I asked her what the other player said to her and she said he said, “I will take it easy on you next time.” Of course she said, “No!”  If this were a male player, there is never a circumstance where this would be said.”

      Kyle Engel, freshmen coach, agreed with Cerrasco when considering the women on the team, “Having female players on the team is a great way to get rid of some the stereotypes about females playing football. Little girls can come watch the games and see that the sport isn’t only for boys. Especially since our girls contribute to the team in a large way.” Engel agreed that it is a good thing the girls are on the team and set a good example for younger girls. However, he does not feel he treats the females different, usually, “It would not do any favors to them to treat them differently as far as expectations and performance, so we hold them to the same standards as the rest of the players. The only way we treat them differently is to help them recognize and overcome the adversity they might encounter over the season that the male players won’t encounter.” He even commented on the other players saying, “It would be surprising if there was no different treatment from a few of the other players. But throughout the season, as the boys have seen the girls putting in the same work and experiencing the same successes and failures, they have come to forget about the differences. As for the coaches, we push them just as hard, and expect the same amount of effort.” Both male and females, no matter who is playing, win and lose together as a team so the amount of work they put in together is all that should matter. Engel pointed out, “I have been at Lake Shore for ten years. We have seen some great female kickers including current JV kicker Charlie Ann Bigelow, but to have girls play in positions other than kicker is rare, even when encountering other teams.” As time continues and women push themselves more, they can be found in more male-driven positions. Lastly he commented, “Football is physically demanding for all players, and seeing the girls step up and perform in the game is really awesome.” Girls stepping up and participating in a sport not common to them is a fantastic thing to see and it is becoming more common every day.