As a little kid, during recess I could most likely be found rounding the bases playing kickball or running the ball in a little game of touch football.
While the rest of the girls in my class sat on the swings or played on the monkey bars, I’d be on the other end of the playground competing with the boys.
On Saturday, I got to relive the days of my childhood as a couple of my friends came together for a game of flag football. Flags and all, we gathered on the still-dewy field of a Savage middle school and took advantage of the nice weather and played some ball.
As one of two girls playing, I was immediately intimidated by the guys we were playing with. I only knew a couple of them previous to the game, but I was looking forward to a little friendly competition. (Not to mention some form of exercise other than the treadmill I’ve been bored with lately.)We split into two teams and, donning the yellow flags, I felt confident in my team of relatively tall and bearded boys.
Our team started off with the ball, and quickly began our passing plays, attempting to near the first-down marker. After a few sloppy plays and embarrassing throws, our quarterback connected for a first down. Somehow we eventually found ourselves in the end zone and scored. It was great, miraculous really.
As the green team huddled with the ball to plan their play, our team decided on man-to-man defense and I nervously prepared to keep an eye on the green team’s girl. I thought to myself that she would probably be of nearly-equal playing ability to me, and realized quite quickly that I was very wrong.
This girl was tiny and quick and played as though she had a lot of flag football experience, even roller derby maybe. With the speed of a sprinter and the agility of a pro, she caught the ball and began to zig and zag, protecting the ball and her flags as I attempted to predict her next zig with no success. She even stiff-armed me in a little defense herself and next thing I knew, I was flat on the ground with a failed attempt at a diving flag grasp.
Thankfully, one of my teammates stopped her a few yards down the field, but as I stood up with dirty palms I realized I had my work cut out for me with this girl. Actually, I would have preferred to be assigned to one of the larger (and presumably slower) guys on the green team.
One thing I knew for sure: We needed better play formations on our own offense. Well, at least some sort of offensive organization.The green team scored a touchdown and we were tied at one apiece.
Our team was back with the ball and we huddled with intentions of planning a spectacular play formation. OK, so maybe we were simply attempting to plan where we would all set up to receive, but I would like to think we were executing Brett Favre-like plays. Far fetched, I know.
As we huddled, one of the guys started spouting off play ideas and code names that sounded practically French to me. What ever happened to “Blue 42” and “hut hut” like my elementary playground days? I was assigned to an inside starting position and told to cross after a 10-yard run along the right sideline in order to make the wedge.
Whew! What? English please?
I can run, and I can catch (kind of) but I have no idea what cross, post, wedge and wing right even means. I just need to be told where to stand before the “snap,” and where the quarterback prefers I end up in hopes of catching a pass.
OK now I probably just sound like a typical girl who doesn’t know anything about football, but in all honesty I enjoy watching football and I like playing football, but this was my first time attempting actual play formations. And once I actually knew what I was expected to do, I even caught the ball a few times. Not to mention I had a 20 yard run stopped just two yards short of our end zone. I was proud of that play, the highlight of the game for me. The not so great part of that game was running into my own teammate (who I guarantee weighed at least 250 pounds) in a collision as we both attempted to steal the flags of our opponent flying down the field. I caught my breath, determined to look tough, and continued on with defense.
After two hours of intense and non-stop flag football, I walked off the field with muddy knees, dirt in my fingernails, and my ponytail in a disarray. Unfortunately, my team also walked away with the loss. However, I avoided all catastrophic situations and hopefully proved to the boys that girls can play football, too.
Getting in my car after the game the only thing I could think about was how much fun I had enjoying the beautiful weather and a little pigskin with some new friends. Minus the fact that I could barely move Sunday, and every muscle in my body aches as though I did a thousand squats, I can say the dirt and discomfort was well worth the fun and experience.
I was even invited back for next Saturday’s flag football game. I guess I should probably polish up on my play calling and run formations so that I can avoid collisions and embarrassment at all costs. Maybe even a little team victory is in store for me.