It’s no mystery that I’ve loved soccer since I could kick a ball down a field (without getting distracted by the ice cream truck that always stopped by the field), but I never really had a special penchant for football. I was more of a European in terms of sports loves, for things like soccer, cycling, boating, and the like (I’m actually about to try out rugby too!). But when it came to “typical” American sports, including the beloved football under the lights, I was just never all that into it. I’d eat fondue and wings during the Super Bowl and tune in during the Half-Time Show and the all-time best commercials of the year, and I was just as big of a fan of Remember the Titans and The Blind Side as the next sports fan–but football just kind of bored me. It stopped too much, and it led to way too much brain damage.
And then I joined the Powderpuff football team for my sorority at Johns Hopkins, Pi Beta Phi. Powderpuff is a big freakin’ deal. Every fall, there’s this whole week dedicated to Greek life and raising money for charities and competing to win money for a super swanky formal (which we did, ahem), and the ultimate event of the week, at least for me, is the Powderpuff football tournament. Teams practice at the beginning of the semester, or before. We wake up at 7 in the morning with our parkas and warm gloves, and strap on cleats and get down to business. We run plays until our button hooks are without stray threads, our long runs are longer, and our arms are all ready to catch. We don’t stop until all flags are on the ground. But why exactly is it that I learned to love football so much?
I really think it’s due to something that I talk about all the time–the feeling of being on a team that supports, depends, and loves you, no matter what. There’s literally nothing like being on a team, especially with girls that are already so important to you. Don’t get me wrong, I already loved these girls to death–but after uniting with them, our eye black on and our spandex tight, ready to stop the other team from gaining a single yard, I feel so incredibly close to them. Our coaches for the past three years have been amazing gentlemen from Beta Theta Pi, and they became our game-time mentors–opening up their wisdom and guidance to us on and off the field.
Not only was the group incredibly tight knit and bonded, but also ready to adapt to change and improve beyond what we even thought was possible. When our amazing safety was no longer able to play, being away during the weekend that the tournament was happening, someone had to step up and try and begin to fill her shoes. Though I definitely knew I could never replace her, I was ready to try and begin to lead the way she did the past two years–and I think I lost my voice screaming so loud. I was shouting “TRIPS RIGHT” and “WATCH THE FAKE” in my sleep. I had to take charge of my defense, and I was honored by the amazing talent and dedication they all showed–very few times did the ball even get back to me. Oh, and I was also the punter. As a goalie, that role felt natural, and it was probably the most fun part of the game for me. I loved being counted on and being able to lead, but I mostly just loved the way everyone’s individual talents combined and contributed to such a mammoth effort. Our offense was zig-zagging and making runs like crazy, and our defense was shutting down every play. Even though we didn’t end up winning, that didn’t seem to matter at the end of the day as the whole team bonded and headed to eat together.I’m honestly sad we don’t get to keep practicing every week. Let’s be real…I’m already super excited for next year, and thinking about ways to make sure not a single ball gets past our defense!
Girls out there, don’t count yourself out of football just yet…