Freshman girl joins WHS football team


Courtesy of Sophia Tian

Freshman Sophia Tian, number sixty-two, sets up on the defensive line during a game.

Molly Ross, Sports Editor

   As the football season gets underway, many observe the changes that have been made to the team. Although football is predominantly played by men, freshman Sophia Tian defies any stereotypes surrounding the sport by being the only girl on the WHS football team for the 2022 season. 

   Tian first started playing football not for the team, but for her own physical goals. 

   “This is only my second year playing,” Tian said. “I started playing because I wanted to get stronger and faster, and I felt like football was a good way to do that.”

   While she is the only girl on the team, according to the MIAA regulations she has a right to be there as students cannot be excluded based on gender from participation on a typically gender-specific sports team. The team has adjusted to her needs while still holding her to the same expectations as other players.

   “Sophia has fit right in with her teammates and she does everything everyone else does,” head football coach Jim Wilcon said.“I just have to do a better job of little things, for example  unlocking the girls locker room for her on Saturdays when she needs her equipment and we are the only team in the building.”

   The players on the team see Tian as just the same as everyone else, and it doesn’t stop them from doing what they normally do. 

   “She is very brave to join an all boys team,” senior captain Mack McManus said. “She is a great team player, and she puts her head down and works hard every day. We are an all-inclusive team and love having fun and working hard with everyone.”

   Although she is petite, that doesn’t stop Tian from working hard during practices and playing one of the most impact prone positions on the field.  

   “She works hard and is very coachable, and most importantly she has been an outstanding teammate,” Wilcon said. “She practices on the offensive and defensive line, which is very impressive.” 

  The chemistry amongst the players on the team has definitely helped for overall inclusion between Tian and the boys.  

   “The coaches and the teammates treat me the same as anyone on the team,” Tian said. “The guys are also really supportive and welcoming.”

   Although Tian originally started playing to get stronger, she has now realized how much of an impact the team has made on her, making her love the sport and experience of being on the team so much more. 

   “My favorite part about being on the team is being with the players and the coaches,” Tian said. “They are a great group of people. They are hardworking, kind, dedicated, caring, and they are honestly like family.”

  While Tian is treated the same as everyone on the team, it definitely took some adjusting for everyone to get used to this change. 

   “It just took a little getting used to as far as what coaches say sometimes. For example we are so used to saying ‘You need to block him on this play’, or ‘You guys are working really hard’,” Wilcon said. “But, I told Sophia and the team that ‘you guys’ is just a general term meaning ‘you people’ so it’s not a huge deal.” 

     Being on the team has definitely left a huge impact on Tian, which makes her want to inspire more girls to play. 

   “I would definitely encourage more girls to play on the team in the future,” Tian said. “It is a great experience, and I think more girls should be able to be involved and understand what it is like being a part of the team, because it is truly one of the best decisions I’ve made.”