Making the Wright choice: Erin Wright brings the girl power to the JH football field

ELLIECLAIRE GORDON, STAFF WRITER

“I never want to let a boy beat me at anything.”

This is exactly the attitude required for a thirteen­-year-old girl playing football.

Eighth grader Erin Wright plans to make history as the first female athlete in the school’s history to play football on an all-boys team. Her decision to play football for her middle school team came as a surprise to everyone except her family.

“I reacted the way I always react when Erin does all the crazy things Erin does,” said Julie Wright, Erin’s mother. “It’s just another Erin thing.”

Erin has always enjoyed watching football on television and playing pickup games on the beach with her sisters. Mrs. Wright needed little convincing to allow Erin to go out for the team.

“I’ve always been a believer that I think people should be able to try anything . . . if they can put their minds to it,” Mrs. Wright said.

Erin’s twin sister, Kelly Wright, is ironically a cheerleader for the JH football team that Erin plays on. Like her mother, Kelly was also not surprised by Erin’s decision.

“Erin’s always been a tomboy, so it wasn’t a surprise that she wanted to play, but it is a surprise that she’s actually doing it,” Kelly said.

Although her mother is concerned for her safety, Erin shrugs it off.

“Other guys get hurt.  Some kid even broke his arm,” she said.

Although Erin’s teammates were once unsure about having a girl on their football team, teammate and eighth grader Myles Schreck said that she is a great addition.

“When all of the football team, including me, heard about a girl on the team, we were all skeptical about it,” he said. “We thought it would make us look bad, but it turns out she’s a very good player. The team is lucky to have her.”

Scott Sukup, the head coach of the JH football team, also values Erin as a player on his team and said she blends in with the boys without a problem.

“She brings desire…to learn the game, to try something different and new,” he said.

Erin doesn’t believe that she will play football at the varsity level because getting injured could impact her other sports.  She still however remains open-minded about it.

While on the topic, Mrs. Wright simply said, “I hope that day never comes.”

Erin faces a few challenges being on an all-boys team, including being in a different locker room, but besides that, she is treated no differently by her teammates and coaches.

“There was no uneasiness at all.  The guys accepted her right away, and she accepted everybody else,” Sukup said.

Playing softball since a young age, Erin is no stranger to throwing and catching. She played on a travel team for softball and also plays for Trinity Prep. Aside from softball, she also plays lacrosse, volleyball and tumbles.

“I want to do every sport before I go to college, so that’s why I play so many sports because I feel like while I’m young, I should do everything,” she said.

Erin joins 523 females who have played high school football in Florida since 1973, and there are currently 700 playing nationwide, according to National Federation of State High School Associations.

Five foot, six inches, and 160-pound Erin DiMeglio became the first girl to play quarterback in a high school football game in 2012 at South Plantation High School.

On September 7, playing defensive end for her entire first game, Erin Wright became the first female to play football at Trinity as the team beat The Master’s Academy 31­0.

“When I first got on the field I was nervous . . . but if you are not confident and don’t give it everything, you will get hurt or lose,” Erin said.

Erin said her opponents did not notice she was a girl until the prayer after the game when she took off her helmet and they did a double take.

If the other team avoids tackling her because she is a girl, Erin said that she can use it to her advantage this season.