Girl Got Game

October 28, 2016

In a room full of slamming red locker doors, excited conversation and anxious footsteps, one girl with a bag of ice on her wrist and taped ankles stands apart from the rest.

Usually, shoulder pads and a football jersey aren’t a common sight in the girls’ locker room, but because of freshman football player Madison Hinderliter they soon will be.

Previously involved in boxing, softball and basketball, Hinderliter began playing football because she wanted to try something new. She first asked to play for a club football team in middle school called the Eagles, but the coach wouldn’t let her join because she was a girl.

“I went to one of their football practices and my mom asked if I could join the team and they told me no,” Hinderliter said. “But that made me want to do it even more. It pushed me to go further in football.”

With a new found drive to prove herself and her skills, Hinderliter entered the Westside football program, where she was now the first girl to become a part of the team in thirteen years.

Hinderliter said her first ever Westside middle school football practice was difficult because of the conditioning, but also encouraging.

“I have a few friends on the team and they told me that I should try playing and I should stick with playing football” Hinderliter said.

Fast forward to freshman year, and it is now Hinderliter’s second year of playing football for Westside. She plays on the freshman team and to her coach, Otis Seals, she is no different to the rest of the boys on the team.

“She’s a football player, and she’s not a whole lot different than the rest of the football players,” Seals said.  “They all work hard and, especially being on the defensive line, they use their hands a lot, they get bruises, they get cuts, and she’s very willing to get in there and do the dirty work just like the boys are.”

Although Hinderliter is just like on of the guys, this season there are some new additions to the team, most of who are new to the concept of having a girl on the team. Although their opinion about Hinderliter’s role on the team can be obvious, she just responds with confidence.

“Some guys that are new this year think it’s wrong for a girl to be on the team,” Hinderliter said. “They tell me that I’m not [worthy] to be on the team and I just tell them ‘are you afraid that I’ll take your spot?’”

Hinderliter’s confidence is noticed amongst the girls in the locker room that experience her pregame and postgame attitude. They are inspired by her role in playing a sport that is traditionally an all boy’s sport.

“I love how [the girls tell] me that I’m playing for them, which I am” Hinderliter said.

Ultimately, Hinderliter said she is simply playing a sport that she enjoys while sending a positive message to the people in her school, on her team, and even just in the locker room.

One tackle at a time, Hinderliter is proving to her team, and to her school that girls can do things just as hard as boys can.

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