Erin DiMeglio made her season debut as a third-string quarterback for South Plantation High School on this September.
Thus the high school senior has made history, becoming the first female quarterback to play for a Florida high school.
It wasn’t that she jumped straight into sports from nowhere. DiMeglio was already the starting point guard for the girl’s basketball team and the quarterback for a girls’ flag football team. But she really wanted to play football.
Just 36 girls played football in the state last year, according to the Florida High School Athletic Association. 1,805 are currently playing nationwide, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation, although none has ever made professional status.
And all have been made possible by Title IX, the 1972 law stating that “no person in the United States shall on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
As Erin DiMeglio strides through the South Plantation High School gym in her purple Under Armour shirt and purple shorts on this Thursday afternoon, her helmet by her side and a girls volleyball game in progress, the hand slaps and waves, smiles and finger-points make it clear to anyone who has ever gone to high school.
This is not just another player.
This is the “BMOC,” a little better sounding than Big Woman on Campus — though, in truth, DiMeglio wouldn’t mind that.
The girl is a rock; 5-foot-6, 156 pounds of solid, nearly 18-year-old jock; a gym rat who spends most of the year playing basketball in a state where, for girls, the sport hasn’t caught on with the same velocity but is overflowing with ferocity.
But, right now, the girl is a quarterback.
Here’s what is so awesome about this story: classmates, the principal, coaches, teammates, fans, even opponents, insist it is simply not that big of a deal. She is just Erin to everyone at South Plantation, although in reality becoming the first female to play football’s premier position for a team with multiple Division I prospects clearly makes her story unique.
“It’s great if I’m bringing positive attention. I just never intended to have this happen. I just wanted to play football. I just like playing and being part of a team,” she tells ESPN.
And as a role model, South Plantation principal Christine Henschel raves, “She’s the total package and she takes it all in stride. There’s no arrogance at all. It’s refreshing.”
More than that, she says, it is a positive example.
“Statistics show that kids successfully involved in sports are more successful academically and the numbers are three times greater for girls, which is staggering,” she says. “And we don’t even know how many little girls out there are hearing about Erin and saying to themselves, ‘Maybe I can do that.’”
Continuing to give women and girls equal access to participation in high school and college athletics will only help increase their chances for success in life — contributing to high graduation rates, building confidence and leadership skills.
Kudos to Erin! You can see the young quarterback in action here:
Photo Credit: screenshot from Youtube
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