Friday, September 14, 2012

Another first for women in football: a high school quarterback

Early last month, Shannon Eastin made history as the first female NFL referee, breaking a decades-long gender barrier in the sport.

Over Labor Day weekend, another young woman joined her in the annals of football history. Erin DiMeglio, a senior at South Plantation High School, in a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, took the field with her football shoulder pads and is being hailed as the first girl in Florida to play quarterback for a high school team.

DiMeglio participated in two plays in the South Plantation Paladins' season opener on August 31, which they won 31-14. While she may not have scored a touchdown or even gained a yard, her snaps were the most important of Friday evening's game.

In an interview with The New York Times, DiMeglio said, "My friends all think I'm crazy, but they also think it's pretty cool."

DiMeglio is not new to football. She learned the game from her father as a girl, played in a flag football league from fourth grade on and as a freshman in high school, became quarterback for South Plantation's girls' team.

During her tenure there, DiMeglio reportedly expressed frustration to her parents and coaches that her teammates couldn't keep up, that the "the girls [couldn't] catch her ball because she [threw] too hard." Over time, her coach Doug Gatewood said she wore him down, and when DiMeglio backed it up with impressive performances in practices and scrimmages over the summer, he put her on the boys' team.

Gatewood told The Associated Press, "It's great publicity for the school, it's a positive thing, but at the end of the day that's not why we did it. We did it because she's a legitimate third-string quarterback."

DiMeglio may not become the Paladins' clutch player this season, but she will certainly be one of the most remembered for her achievement.

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