Pushing the limits

Girls speak out on joining football team

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Cecily Mohammed – Chattahoochee High School
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Maddie Bernard – Northview High School

Cecily Mohammed – Chattahoochee High School

It all started with a group of supportive friends for Cecily Mohammed.
Mohammed, now a senior, joined the Chattahoochee High School football team her freshman year after her male friends saw how good she was at playing. While the group was still transitioning out of middle school, Mohammed’s peers convinced her to try out.

“We always joked about how we always did everything together, and that I should try out for the high school football team, too,” Mohammed said. “I thought it would be really hard at first my freshman year, especially with the senior kids. But the head coach, Vince Strine, has been really amazing and made the adjustment easy. And the guys were actually very nice and very supportive.”

Mohammed has since played as the team’s kicker throughout her high school career, in between heading her breast cancer research organization Project Think Pink, and has already committed to the University of Georgia to play soccer for two years. She has played soccer all her life.

As Chattahoochee’s first female football player, Mohammed said she has found incredible support in her team and has spoken to multiple girls her age looking to join a football team.

“I just kept telling them that you shouldn’t be afraid to try something, especially if it’s something unusual,” she said. “Just go for it and do your best. See what happens. That’s what I did, and I was fortunate enough to be able to continue to do it – something I love doing.” ■

Maddie Bernard – Northview High School

"Just go for it” is the advice of Northview High School’s own junior varsity placekicker Maddie Bernard. Everyone, regardless of gender, shouldn’t let their fear or reservations keep them from trying out for a sport they love – especially football.

“We are all one family,” Bernard said. “Trying something new can lead to new experiences. Just don't take my spot!”

Bernard, herself, went for it shortly after she was inspired by another female football player. She hasn’t looked back since.

“The idea of trying out came to mind [before], but I never really thought much about it,” Bernard said. “But then I went to a few varsity football games last year, and there was another girl kicker on the team: Olivia Mitrovich. She inspired me to try out and push myself out of my comfort zone.”

After she joined the team, Bernard said she continued to feel Mitrovich’s legacy in how her teammates and coaches interacted with her. Despite the widespread view that football is a boy’s-only club, Bernard said she was met with a welcoming atmosphere.

“At first, the boys didn’t really think I was on the team, but they have been very supportive and encouraging,” Bernard said. “I think Olivia really paved the way for that. The coaches treat me like any of the boys and have high expectations, just like anyone else.”

Although she has been playing football for one year, Bernard has been a lifelong lover of sports. She has played soccer for as long as she can remember and has dabbled in both swim team and basketball. ■


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