My daughter Jessie had to write a paper on a time she felt different from others. After some brainstorming together we decided on her choice to play football. Today she is my guest blogger. I thought her paper was insightful, and better than anything I could think of for today!

Jessica Johnson
October 2nd 2011
Period 3
IB Prep.
My body hit the ground, my arms too tired to slow my descent. I pushed myself up, just to hear the whistle blow, signaling that I needed to hit the ground again. “Why?” I thought as my body hit the grass with a thud.
The fall of seventh grade, some of my family members mentioned that I should be the kicker for the football team. “Really?” was my initial thought, but I soon warmed up to the idea. My next question was “Why?” this was the first of many times I would ask myself this question. I have played soccer all my life. My Grandma would call me Thunder Thighs as I kicked the ball down the length of the field. I was the only person in my family to play soccer, my three older brothers were all playing or had played football. We all grew up competing in tackle football games in the backyard. I was very familiar with the game of football, I loved every single thing about it, so why not play?
I would have to wait until my eighth grade year to play. The first step was to talk to Coach. I went into his classroom that is covered in both football and U of O posters. Coach McGee knew me well and was more than happy to let me play. He did see a few flaws in my plan. The big one was that I would have to tackle and I would be tackled. I had no problems with this, I was all for being able to hit a few guys and thought it would be fun to be laid out. My mom, however, wasn’t so sure about me getting hit. She decided to let me play, but with conditions. I could only kick field goals and P.A.T.’s(point after touchdowns) this way I would not have to tackle someone. I would not participate in any tackling drills during practice and hopefully I would never be tackled during a game. Coach agreed to this, even though I knew he still had some concerns about my commitment. In order to play football I would have to be willing to miss a few soccer practices and take the slim chance that I might get hurt. I thought long and hard into the night finally falling asleep around 1:30am. In the morning I decided that anything worth thinking about to such a great extent must be worth the sacrifices.
Middle school football has a policy that says everybody who wants to play will make the team, with me it was a little different. There was no point in me playing unless I could kick better than the current kicker. Coach decided to hold an informal tryout to see how adept I was at kicking. I kicked field goals, P.A.T.’s, I punted the football, and kicked it off from a tee. McGee was amazed with my kicking ability and I was on the team.
What is commonsense to boys is not always commonsense to girls, and it would be an understatement to say I was a little confused when it came to football pads. I asked an innumerable amount of questions. “Where does this go? Are these supposed to be this tight? Do I really need this?” I had a fair amount of problems with the equipment and to add to the pressure I felt, I was the only one with these problems. The guys were all doing fine and didn’t have one problem or question. This was the second time I asked myself “Why? Is this really worth it?” At that moment it really wasn’t worth it. I had just spent the last half hour running around the school, rummaging in old boxes, and negotiating with the P.E. teacher to try and get a lock and locker inside the girls locker room. With that mess finally cleared up, I moved on to the last thing on my agenda, getting a helmet. The first helmet I was given to try on was too big. The second I could not even put on because it was to small. The third was perfect after Coach added cheek pads. Only, when I went to take it off, the helmet was stuck. I scampered around pulling, tugging, hitting, and pushing, doing everything in my power to get it off. Yet it remained steadfast on my head. Suddenly, the helmet came off my head, along with a handful of my hair. I looked and the helmet was dangling in Coach’s hand. I took my helmet from him and ran out of there as fast as I could.
Equipment was bad, but it was nothing compared to the attention I got from every person when they found out I was playing football. Girls reacted with a, “That’s sooo cool!” Boys reactions were mixed some thought I was “brave” others “stupid” and some just wanted to hit me. My brothers were indifferent most of the time, Christian, who was also on the team, was okay with it because he could tackle me. My parents were very nervous but encouraging. Other adults were excited for me and thought I was remarkable for trying. I didn’t see why it was a such a big deal. I wanted to be “one of the guys” but that was impossible because everywhere I looked was a difference staring me right in the eyes.
I hoped that as we began practice and prepared for our first game things would settle down. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Practice was very different for me. I did not participate in any tackling drills, alternatively I stood in front of the goal post kicking millions of balls through the uprights. Sometimes I would not condition with the team, I would be in the locker room changing into my soccer things. My absence from conditioning was noticed by some of the boys and it was obvious they did not like it. Game days were different for me too. I got dressed in the girls locker room by myself then spent 20 long minutes waiting for the boys to be ready with nothing but my nerves to keep me company. When I was finally let into the guys locker room everywhere I looked it seemed there were signals telling me I didn’t belong.
The team was undefeated and we celebrated each victory as a team. At the same time I celebrated each victory based on how I did. We may have won every game but I missed my first three P.A.T’s and even though we won I was not celebrating. I viewed our wins through different eyes based on how I played. My victories were much sweeter to me because I worked hard for my victory and it was purely mine. The P.A.T.’s I made and missed are still with me to this day.
During my season of football I asked myself the question “Why?” a profuse amount of times. The answer is easy; I learned from it and met amazing people. I had a great time and even though I was different from everyone else we still became a team. I was part of something bigger than me an undefeated season that I had no control over, but was a part of. It was amazing and I would do it again in a heartbeat.


4 Comments so far
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Comment by Barb Stoefen

yea so she was not so sure about letting me post it but as usual was willing when i said please

Comment by Kari

Great writing!

Comment by Jane

I will tell her you said so Jane!!

Comment by Kari

Comment here!

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