The Unexpected This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   Itall started as a joke, but it ended as the real thing. When I was in seventhgrade, my friend Lakeisha and I were running in P.E. and talking about whatschool activities to join the next year. I thought we could join the footballteam, and she thought it was a good idea. Everyone else, though, thought it was abad idea. Why couldn't a girl play football? I wondered.

We went to CoachPaul and asked if there was any way for a girl to join the football team.

"Of course, any girl can join," he said. "All you need todo is go to the district athletic office and get the administrator'spermission."

I couldn't stop thinking about being on the footballteam. I was so excited. When I asked my parents, my mom thought I should dowhatever I wanted, but my dad didn't really like the idea.

"If youare going to be in a football team, Carina, I'll let you, but I won't be any partof it," he said.

At school, I told everyone I was going to be on thefootball team. No one believed me, of course, but I had set my mind on this andno one was going to get in the way. Many asked, "Are you sure you want to dothis? Remember, it's a guy sport, and you are not a guy." I ignored allthese dumb comments and just thought about what I wanted to do.

That fall,I went straight to Coach Paul and asked him to let me be on the eighth-gradefootball team. Lakeisha and I were so exited. We got the district's permissionand were ready to play. Just when everything was going great, Lakeisha's daddecided not to give his permission. At that point, I didn't really think I couldgo through it without my best friend by my side.

"You are alreadytoo far into it, Carina," she insisted. "There is no turningback."

I went to the boys' locker room to get all my equipment.When I came out, the boys started laughing. I felt embarrassed. But I kept onwalking, ignoring them, and suddenly all the girls on the bleachers startedclapping and cheering for me. I blushed and smiled, and since that day, everyonehas called me "football girl."

The first day of practice was theworst day of my life. I had spent all summer eating potato chips and watching TV,and I was so out of shape I felt like I was going to die. The next day, I was sosore, I wasn't really sure I had the strength to go on. But after that, it wasn'tso bad.

It was funny that everyone thought I was on the football teambecause I was good. I actually didn't even know how to play. I acted like I did,but I truly didn't. I played football at home with my friends, but it was justhorse playing. Now, I was in for the real thing.

In the beginning, theguys weren't too happy that I was there. I didn't really feel anxious, though,because one of my best friends, Craig, was always there for me. Finally everyoneaccepted me and took me in like I was one of them. And, in fact, Iwas.

Everyone in school talked about the "football girl." Ihated when people called me that. Then they started spreading rumors that I wason the football team to be with guys. I knew I wasn't on the team for that stuff,and if they thought otherwise, I didn't care.

Joining the football teamhelped me understand guys a little better, like all the gross stuff they do, andthe way they treat each other. For them it's just a funny way to say hi. The guyswere amusing when they made fun of each other. Once one kid had a really bad hairday and another one started making fun of him. The kid with the bad hair waslaughing right along with him. I was so surprised he took it that way. If thatever happened to me, I'd probably get mad.

After football season was over,I thought I'd made a big deal out of something that wasn't so hard. All myfriends were amazed that I participated in the team. I'm happy I accomplishedsomething I never imagined I could. So remember, the unexpected is always thebest.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Labtopnerd This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm
I found this piece very interesting. My school has only one girl on the football team also, and it was intriguing to hear about someone else's experince with it. You did a great job telling the story!
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