From guest blogger Kimberly Shannon
Erin DeMeglio, a senior at South Plantation High School, made her debut earlier this month as the first girl believed to play quarterback in a Florida high school football game. It is possible that she may be the first in the nation, according to the Yahoo! Sports Prep Rally blog.
DeMeglio, a third-stringer, entered the season-opening game against Nova High with 1:40 left on the clock and a 31-14 lead by her team. She took two snaps in a shotgun formation, and handed the ball off each time, according to the Associated Press.
The 5'6", 160-pound DeMeglio has been on the school’s girls’ flag football team since she was a freshman. That’s how she caught the attention of flag and varsity football coach Doug Gatewood, who asked her to play with the boys. In a 7-on-7 tournament this summer with her soon-to-be teammates, she threw five touchdown passes, and in a preseason jamboree on Aug. 24, she completed two passes against Seminole Ridge, according to espnW.
Gatewood wasn’t worried about DeMeglio’s gender or stature being a disadvantage. “I have 10 kids smaller than her,” he said. He puts her in shotgun formation and tells her to stay in the pocket because of her size and speed, not because he’s afraid that she’s too fragile, espnW reports.
Gatewood wasn’t the only one who noticed DeMeglio this year. With coverage by People magazine, The New York Times, and other publications, DeMeglio has become somewhat of a celebrity. “It’s great if I’m bringing positive attention,” she said, according to espnW. “I just never intended to have this happen. I just wanted to play football. I just like playing and being part of a team.”
While 1,604 girls in the nation played 11-player football during the fall 2011 season, only 36 played in Florida, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Additionally, they report, female high school football players have generally been kickers, with some occasional receivers, defensive backs and offensive linemen, so DeMeglio’s position can be considered a rarity at the least.
DeMeglio, who is also the starting point guard for the Paladins girls’ basketball team, hopes that the skills and training she is gaining, as well as her 4.2 GPA and three classes’ worth of college credits, will help her earn a college scholarship, according to espnW.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.