The game of football is seen all across the country from Friday Night Lights to Monday Night Football, two teams of 11 players on the field battling for one goal, to be victorious. Football is known to be to be a “man’s game” and a game that tests your strengths.
In the NFL there is not one woman player, in College football there is not one woman player and in high school there is not one woman player.
Well not so fast. There is one woman, or shall we more accurately say, young lady that is trying to change that.
Let me introduce you to Mariah Provost of John C. Birdlebough High School, located in Phoenix, NY, and home to the Phoenix High Firebirds
What made Mariah pursue football? “My mom took me down to our Pop Warner football field when I was about seven. She told me she wanted me to do cheerleading but I didn’t want to, so I signed up for football,” said Provost. “At first she did question it; she didn’t think that I was serious. A few of the kids on the team didn’t take me seriously either but I didn’t let it get to me. I just went out there and played.”
While other girls her age were standing on the sidelines practicing their new dance moves, new cheers, or doing their hair, Provost was suiting up in pads and a helmet to get ready to take the field.
Do you think girls can play football to?
Unlike the boys, before being considered, Provost had to go through various conditioning and physical tests. “I had to do things like running, jumping, sit ups, and push ups in a certain amount of time to be eligible to play,” said Provost.
About it bothering her that she had to do these tests instead of the boys, “not really, I think they’re just looking out for me and any other girl that decides to play,” said Provost.
In her first day of practice she impressed the coaches with her throwing abilities. “My coach Mike Merrit saw that I could throw the day before practice and decided to try me out at quarterback and I have been playing it ever since,” said Provost. Not only was she good at the position but she also liked playing it and also for publicity reasons. “I don’t think that I would be getting all of this publicity if I was another position such as a kicker,” said Provost.
While the offensive side of the ball is very physical, the defensive side of the ball is a whole other story. Defense is where you see the hard tackles and hard hits that even the best offensive players fear. Provost plays not only quarterback, but defensive end as well. “I love it. In my mind it’s the most exciting defensive position and I’m glad that my coaches believe that I can play it because to play that position you have to be fast, strong, and very athletic. Knowing that they think that I fit all of those categories, it’s awesome,” said Provost.
Many would think that Provost, a girl going up against not only men but offensive lineman who are arguably the biggest and strongest players on the field, would be at a disadvantage. “Yeah at times but it doesn't bother me. I just go out there and do my job,” said Provost.
Playing both sides of the ball is fun for any player because they are always in the game. Provost finds offense more appealing. “Well I play quarterback which makes you like another coach because you’re in control of the offense when you’re on the field. And I like being that second coach,” said Provost.
Now being a quarterback is very hard to do for anyone,. Not only are you that “second coach” but you’re the leader on the field and of your teammates. Gaining the respect from your teammates can be difficult as well. Especially for a young lady playing a “man’s sport”.
“When I first started it was difficult, but soon I gained their respect. And over time the team just became really close on and off the field. And I became a leader on the team,” said Provost.
It wasn't only her teammates that judged her, but many of the opposing players did as well. “A few here and there,(talking about the opposing players), but it doesn’t phase me because I know that I’m good enough to compete against them,” said Provost.
Provost proved that she could play with the boys against Provost October 16th when she scored the first touchdown of her high school career on a 4 yard run off of a bootleg. She became the first woman to score a touchdown in the Section and is believed to be the first to do it in New York State.
Provost hopes that deciding to play football as a woman inspires other women in the future to play as well. “I think that would be awesome,” said Provost. Provost not only hopes to change the game having woman play but she also doesn’t want to stop playing. As a senior moving on to college, Provost hopes to take her game to the next level by playing at Liberty University in Virginia, who are interested in her.
Macky MacPherson a Syracuse football player had this to say. “Good for her in my opinion, she can do what she wants, and if she’s good at it, then it’s even cooler.”