Ten-year-old Perryville girl is ready for some football

October 25, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

PERRYVILLE - Keep the hair ribbons and pom poms for the cheerleaders. Michaela Montgomery prefers to tuck her blond hair up in a blue helmet and show her school pride in a Bulldogs football jersey. The 10-year-old fourth-grader finally persuaded her mother to let her join in the rough and tumble sport.

"She has been after me with this for a couple of years and I have been putting her off," says Rosalind "Rocky" Montgomery as she watches her daughter at a recent practice.

When Montgomery decided to give in to her daughter's pleas, she talked to the coach who referred her to John Drake, the head of the recreation department. He requested that Michaela obtain a doctor's approval.

"Our physician said she didn't see any problem as long as she didn't take too many major hits," says Rosalind Montgomery.


At first, Montgomery and Michaela's dad, Michael Montgomery, tried to convince Michaela to be a team manager, but that was not what she had in mind.

"She asked, 'If I'm a manager will I get to go out there and hit?'" Rosalind Montgomery says.

Those Boyle County Rebels

Although they aren't the kind of family prone to watching a lot of college or NFL football, Rosalind Montgomery says Michaela does have an interest in sports because she has a 14-year-old brother, Justin, who plays soccer. Most of her exposure to football has been through watching the Boyle County Rebels.

"We're pretty faithful, even away games," says Rosalind Montgomery, who is a Boyle County graduate.

Rosalind Montgomery is not surprised at her daughter's desire to play.

"She is just a tomboy to the hilt. We don't do dresses. We don't do the jewelry. We don't do the makeup."

Her daughter also isn't one to host a tea party for her girlfriends.

"When she has friends over, they're boys."

It was those friends who prompted Michaela to want to play the sport. "Every day I would see my friends in their football jerseys and I thought it was neat," says Michaela as she removes her mouth guard and takes a break from practicing her offensive tackle position.

Now she has joined her friends and even has an official nickname. Just like Blake Mason is called Tank and Devon Carpenter is Crazy 8s, she is known as Tubby.

Since Michaela began her season on the gridiron shortly after Labor Day, she has shown a lot of improvement.

"She's holding her own," says Joey Burke, one of the coaches for the junior varsity team on which she plays.

Since she went to the trouble of joining the team, Michaela is doggedly making sure she isn't warming the bench.

"She bugs the coaches about playing time," Burke says.

Once she takes to the field, she's in her element.

"She has a lot of heart," he says. "And she has a lot of fun."

Doing up-downs

Her mother says on the days the team doesn't practice, her daughter works on the coaches' suggestions. She walks and does up-downs, which are like a series of quickie pushups that help increase her speed.

"She does what they ask her at night. She takes it serious," Rosalind Montgomery says.

Michaela says there is a lot more involved to the game than she realized. "It's hard to remember all the plays - what you're supposed to do," she says.

She admits that since joining the team, she has been the subject of some teasing, but she knows how to silence any taunts.

"One of the kids they just put me up against was one that was teasing me and that's why I knocked him down."

Her mom says she thinks it's great that her daughter is overcoming barriers to her sex.

"As far as gender goes, you should be pretty open to what they want to do."

Things were different when Rosalind Montgomery was growing up. In her neighborhood, she and her sister were the only girls and they played a lot of basketball.

"We lost to the neighbors on a regular basis so they'd come back and play."

Her father, Michael Montgomery, says he expects his daughter, who also plays basketball, to have a great athletic career. "I know she's about tougher than any of them out there."|

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