LHYFC adds girls to football roster in 2018


By Keith Sparks

Every summer, Liberty Hill Youth Football and Cheer (LHYFC) has its annual football and cheer camp that typically doesn’t change much from year to year. This year, however, there was a noticeable difference.

It wasn’t the first time a girl participated in camp, but this year, there were three, each of whom has committed to playing a season with LHYFC, according to President Gerald Lorance.

“We had two sixth-grade girls and one fourth-grade girl that came to camp and liked it so much that they said, ‘We want to try to play tackle football,’” Lorance said.

Fourth-grader Allie Amsler, along with sixth-graders Brooklyn Foster and Bianca Lerma, are mixing it up with the boys on the gridiron, and Lorance said the boys don’t seem to mind at all.

“I don’t think the boys mind,” Lorance said. “Some people were a little skeptical, but me, being from Frisco before I came here, I had a girl playing with me before, so it was no big deal. They’re just football players. They’re athletes, so we’re going to see what happens.”

All three girls said they joined for one simple reason: they like to tackle.

“I played soccer my whole life, and I just wanted a chance to play football because I like tackling,” Lerma said.

“I’m really enjoying it,” Foster said. “I really like to tackle people, so that’s pretty fun.”

“I like hitting,” Amsler said, matter-of-factly. “Me and my dad always play football in the front yard and my brother played, so we’d always just play together and it was really fun.”

All three should get plenty of opportunities to tackle this season, considering their positions. Foster and Amsler are getting most of their reps at linebacker, and Lerma has bounced around between tackle, guard, and nose guard.

Lorance said at this age, the girls are typically bigger than the boys, so they should fit in well at positions that require size, like defensive line and linebacker.

“The two that I have are kind of taller girls, so they’re not going to be the running back type, they’re probably going to be more the line and linebacker kind,” Lorance said. “They’re taller than most of the boys. At that age, the girls are usually bigger than the boys.”

In addition to taking advantage of the opportunity to tackle somebody, Foster said she just wanted to try something different this year. In the past, she’s participated in zero-contact sports like volleyball and horseback riding and was simply ready for something new.

“I decided to play football because I just thought it was a cool sport to play,” Foster said. “It looked a little bit different than what I usually play, because I usually play volleyball and horseback riding. It just seemed a lot different and I wanted to try something new.”

Lerma, on the other hand, just finished her second year of football camp, so this isn’t her first rodeo. Two years ago, she attended her first football camp before deciding to focus on soccer last summer. This year, she’s ready to get back to hitting, and she’s doing a pretty good job of it, so it seems. One drill in particular, she said, called sumo wrestling, has been her specialty.

“We do this one drill called sumo wrestling, and it’s not really wrestling, but the coaches say I’m good at pinning people down,” Lerma said.

Although the hitting is pretty straight forward, all three girls mentioned learning the playbook as one of the most difficult aspects of the game. Thankfully, each of them said the boys have been supportive for the most part, helping them with plays and walking them through drills.

The girls appreciate the help, no doubt, but also want to make sure nobody is taking it easy on them. Lerma knows it may be a tough transition, but she wants the exact same treatment and opportunities that the boys get.

“I don’t want them to go easy on me because I’m a girl,” Lerma said. “They might want to go easy on me, but I’d like the same kind of action the boys have for playing football.”

“They’re not hitting me as hard as they do to other people,” Foster said, adding that she wishes they would.

Apart from the occasional reduced effort against them during drills, the girls said they’ve been treated just like one of the guys after the initial uncertainty wore off. Amsler said that uncertainty has since turned to encouragement.

“At first, they were kind of like, ‘Eh,’ but now they’re like, ‘Good job,’” Amsler said.

As far as their opponents are concerned, none of the girls want them to know who they’re up against until after the game, which may require some creativity to hide a braid or two.

“I don’t know, I might tuck in my braid so they don’t know, so they’ll actually go hard on me,” Amsler said.

Foster doesn’t think it will be a big deal, even if they do find out beforehand.

“I think they’re just going to be like, ‘Who cares, really?’” Foster said.

Lorance admitted that it might be different having a few girls on the football field, but so far, they’ve competed hard in practice both against and with the boys.

“They were running gassers tonight with the boys, they were learning plays tonight with the boys, and they looked like they were picking it up in camp to the point where they said, ‘Yeah, we want to do this,’” Lorance said.

For game days, Lorance gave them some fairly simple advice to adhere to when they hit the field.

“It’s going to be different having some girls out there, but I told them, ‘Hit hard, hit often, hit quick, and don’t let them know you’re a girl until after the game,’” he said.