PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A local high school football program is paving the way for a different type of player. Football is a game only a few get to play.
“I still had more than 25 trying out. There was a few we had to cut,” coach John Masluk said.READ MORE: “School Girls,” Directed By Temple University’s Amina Robinson, Tackles Difficult Topics
Those some who do go on to make history.
“Football has always been just a male thing so nowadays, it’s time to give the girls a chance,” Masluk said.
But for the inaugural St. Hubert’s girls flag football team, they’re only looking toward the future, joining 14 other Catholic and public high schools who launched a program this year in partnership with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I never thought I’d be called a high school football player, like as a girl too,” senior Alex McGonigle said. “When the Eagles were like, ‘We want to have you on the field, be part of this, make it a big thing,’ it was really cool.”
Earlier this month, the girls played a showcase game at Lincoln Financial Field, including a tour, photos, and tunnel run.
“Coming out of the tunnel, having Swoop there, having the cheerleaders there to cheer them on their faces, they were ear to ear smiles,” Masluk said.
“I put the uniform on and I was walking down the hallways proud, like ‘yup I’m on the football team,'” junior Mariah Riddick said.READ MORE: 5 People Shot Near Temple University, Philadelphia Police Say
Riddick says she’s been showing the boys she can hang with them since she was a little girl.
“When they saw me throw the ball, their jaw was dropped they were like, ‘oh my gosh, she could throw,'” she said.
“Every girl who’s out here has that in them,” coach Shannon Glennon said, “but they’ve been told so many times. ‘You’re a lady, you can’t be fierce, calm down, act more ladylike,’ but we’re playing football. You need to be fierce, you need to be aggressive.”
Senior Melanie Rola says playing has pushed her out of her comfort zone — on and off the field.
“Because of COVID, I kind of went into my shell and I kind of stopped talking to people,” she said, “but this is a great opportunity for me to make friends.”
While the season includes eight regular games and playoffs, this team knows the score isn’t the only win.
“Being part of the first girls’ football team, that’s something I will say for the rest of my life,” McGonigle said.MORE NEWS: PPA Adding Patrols To Monitor Illegally Parked Cars In Bike Lanes Amid Growing Number Of Bicyclists Killed In Philly
“I pray that a girl who sees me or any other girl playing football just takes that opportunity to be like, ‘wow, I can do that,'” Riddick said.