Glancing through my Facebook feed the other day I was shocked to see a comment posted by a friend about a football player, a seventh grade middle school kicker, who wasn’t allowed to play during a recent game.
The kicker wasn’t allowed to play because the kicker is a “she,” the post explained.
Her name is Charlotte, she’s twelve years old, and this is her first season playing football. She’s a kicker for her team at a private school in North Carolina.
This story immediately got my attention. Maybe this story caused me to do a double-take and peaked my curiosity because I’m a mom of two teenage girls. I’ve raised my daughters to believe that they can do anything they want to do regardless of their gender. They wouldn’t even consider being told they couldn’t do something because they’re female. Being discriminated against because they’re girls isn’t something that would enter their minds.
This is 2016.
There’s a female running for President. My daughters see women holding leadership positions in companies, the military and government.
I’m not interested in writing anything negative and I choose not to name either school.There’s a discrepancy in the facts regarding what was actually said between the coaches. One team says they were told if Charlotte played on the field they would have to forfeit the game. The other team says their coach voiced his concern about Charlotte’s safety and didn’t say she couldn’t play but rather it was their preference she not play.
But, I can’t help notice they did have a conversation about the girl in a football uniform and not any other players.
To me, it doesn’t matter who said what. I’m more interested in reminding my daughters, and anyone else’s daughters, that they can do anything they want to do and their gender doesn’t matter. What does matter is the kind of people they are, the qualities they possess and their character. I hope my daughters are kind and caring individuals who are honest and humble.
“Football wasn’t something I thought my daughter would ever play,” Charlotte’s mom Carolyn Albright said, “but she has two brothers who play and our family is always on a football field.”
Charlotte plays soccer, the goalie position, a position that demands the individual have a skilled kick. Because of this, she is used to kicking a ball a long distance. One day when a coach saw her playing around on a football field with her brothers, he encouraged her to think about playing football. She thought about it and eventually decided to give it a shot. As a kicker, she doesn’t spend a lot of time on the line or getting tackled.
While there’s always a chance she could get hurt, it’s a risk that Charlotte is comfortable taking. Like in most sports, injuries can happen. Her family knows this. If they weren’t comfortable with this, they wouldn’t allow their sons or daughter to take the field. This wasn’t for another team’s coach to question.
It takes a lot of nerve to put on a football uniform and go out onto a field and Charlotte has received nothing but support and positive comments from her school and team. She plays because she loves the game and it’s fun, probably the same reason many of the boys on her team play. When I asked her how this recent situation made her feel she said, “It’s been a great learning experience for me. I didn’t think people would make a big deal about it and that makes me feel good.”
It’s a good lesson for Charlotte and for all of us. Charlotte could be my daughter. This could have happened to my family or yours. While we teach our daughters to be strong women and tell them they can do anything, we have to be willing to back it up when something unfair happens.
It’s a good opportunity to remind all of our daughters they can do anything they want to do. While there will always be people who will try to derail them or tell them “no,” they don’t need to listen to those people. Those opinions don’t matter. What does matter is how they feel about themselves. Raise your daughters to be strong and brave, to believe in themselves and know they can do anything they want to do, always. And, when they hear other people say “you can’t” they need to listen to their own voice, the one that is cheering them on and saying, “yes you can.”
Charlotte took this whole experience in stride. She may have taken a hit from the “other team” but she bounced back up and is putting herself back in the game. Just like a girl.