Solon High School introduces its first female football player

Maryash+%28left%29+running+in+to+kick.
Maryash (left) running in to kick.

Maryash (left) running in to kick.

Courtesy of Felicia Maryash

Courtesy of Felicia Maryash

Maryash (left) running in to kick.

Christina Cartwright, Organizing Editor

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For years at Solon High School, most athletic teams have been divided by gender. Many sports like tennis, basketball and soccer all have a boys or girls team. This year, junior Felicia Maryash has blurred the gender line by joining the junior varsity football team as a kicker and is the first female to do so at SHS.

Maryash, although excited, felt nervous at first on joining the football team. She wasn’t sure how her other teammates would treat her because she was a girl.

“[I was wondering if they] would be welcoming and see me as a [real] player, or if I’m just a girl that thinks she can play a ‘boys’ sport,” Maryash said. “[I was worried about] what others would say, and how the other players would react.”

But quickly after joining the team, Maryash’s attitude changed when she saw how her team members weren’t concerned with gender. Friend and fellow team member Anthony Lanzara, who is a senior and plays on the varsity team, shared that when playing together as a team it’s less about gender and more about work ethic.

 

“Felicia goes through the same workouts and drills as [the rest of the team does],” Lanzara said. “She works as hard as all of us, if not harder. She gives so much time into the sports she plays, and it’s very inspiring to watch.”

Maryash doesn’t only play football. She is also a member of the girls soccer team at SHS. Maryash shared how both practices started at the same time, so she was conflicted on how to work it out. She stated that the coaches helped her out by deciding she would go to football practice for the first 30 minutes to practice kicking, and then attend soccer practice for the remainder of the night.

Maryash said that playing both sports can be challenging and time-consuming. She also noted how  football differs so much from soccer.

“To start off with, there are so many more people [on the football team] compared to soccer,” she said. “The actual sport is totally different since it is played with hands instead of feet. And compared to soccer practice [football] is much longer. We do many different practice drills like set plays while for soccer the only set plays we could try is for corner kicks.”

Although there are many differences within the sports, the support for each other on both teams is much the same. Football coach James McQuaide, who has been coaching football for 39 years, said that he wasn’t nervous that any of the team members would treat Maryash any differently.

“When anyone says they want to be a part [of the team] then they’re all the same.” McQuaide said. “The only difference is she dresses in a different location.”

McQuaide went on to further explain that when she tried out, it wasn’t gender he was concerned with, but more with her skill level.

“We didn’t know what her ability was because we had never seen her do anything,” he explained. “She showed in the springtime that she could definitely kick. She’s done a good job, and she’s getting better. [After her tryout] I thought she was as good as the other guys who wanted to kick. Once we go on the field and we have that ‘SC’ on, it’s not ‘oh she’s a girl and he’s a guy,’ at the end of the day they’re all Solon Comets.”

Maryash trying out and making the team is opening many doors for SHS students. Although Maryash wasn’t the first girl to ask about being on the team, she was the first at SHS to follow through with it. Breaking stereotypical norms such as girls in football or boys in cheerleading is becoming more common, and Maryash hopes her joining the football team will encourage others to go for their dreams as well.

“I say if you have a chance go out and try it, it might turn out to be the best thing you’ve ever done.” She says. “Don’t be afraid to try something new. I know I am happy with my decision and I will never regret trying out.”

 

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “Solon High School introduces its first female football player”

  1. Hannah Edelman on September 29th, 2017 7:58 am

    Amazing article about something that’s super cool! Seriously, awesome job Christina! 🙂

    [Reply]

  2. Tracey Armon on September 29th, 2017 10:39 am

    I think it is amazing that girls are allowed to play on the boys teams and boys on girls, just don’t want to different genders to share locker rooms or bathrooms

    [Reply]

  3. Chad Spurio on October 2nd, 2017 9:23 pm

    This article was some straight flames, well done Chris!

    [Reply]

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