Girls on the Gridiron

Two freshmen girls joined the football team for the 2021 season and shared their experiences playing a male-dominated sport.


Regan Simeon

Freshman Caitlyn Kingler breaks the huddle with her teammates during a football practice.

Quinn Brown and Anna Bailey

Blue Valley Northwest has only had one girl play on the football team in the past five years. For the upcoming season, there will be two girls on the team. Freshman Caitlyn Kingler will play kicker and freshman Naomi Schultz will play defensive tackle and wide receiver for the freshman team.

“I’d always [joke] around about playing kicker, and this year I decided that I was just going to try it out,” Kingler said. 

Klinger said she has encountered assumptions from other people regarding her playing football. 

“Some people may think I’m doing it for attention, or doing it to hang out with the boys,” Kingler said.

Both Kingler and Schultz mentioned how being the only two girls on the team can be fun, but also challenging. 

“It can be a little tough at times but at the same time, it’s nice, and the boys on the team are pretty accepting of it,” Schultz said. 

Kingler added how her teammates treat her the same, which helps to calm her nerves. 

“It’s obviously been very nerve-wracking. But most of the boys are really nice, they don’t even care that I’m a girl, so it’s been pretty fun,” Kingler said.

 Clint Rider has been coaching football for 16 years, five of them as the head coach at BVNW. In his time at BVNW, one girl has played on the team before this year. However, Rider said football is becoming more inclusive and hopes more girls will try out for the team in the future.

“I think it takes some courage to come out and do something where there’s not a lot of other girls that are out for the sport,” Rider said. “Girls are starting to come out for the sport, the game is growing and becoming more of an option.”

Schultz talked about the importance of girls trying out for the team. 

“I feel like girls can be a little uneasy, of course, you’ll have people who’ll say, ‘girls don’t play football,’ [and] people will discriminate. But, once you get on [the team], it’s really not that bad,” Schultz said. 

Schultz said she feels football is about the love of the sport and the family, rather than the expectations of the sport. 

“It’s not really about the discrimination of whether boys or girls can play football, it’s just playing ball. If you break it down, we’re just playing football on a field for fun,” Schultz said. 

Rider added to this, saying football is open to anybody who loves and is dedicated to the sport.

“Our program is not just for boys, our program is open for anybody who would like to come and enjoy the sport that we all love. If you love football and you want to work hard and be part of a team, then everyone’s welcome to come aboard,” Rider said.

Kingler says that doing what makes you happy is more important than what other people think.

“There is always going to be someone that doesn’t like what you’re doing or has an opinion on what you’re doing. If it’s going to make you happy, then you should always go for it,” Kingler said.