(KTXL) — At high schools all across the country, girls are playing as starters on varsity rosters. Locally, Delta High’s Kylie Chastain is a starter on the offensive line.
“I’ve always really wanted to play. My freshman year I wasn’t allowed to play, so I did cheer,” Chastain said.
At Rio Linda High, Sydney Grant is a linebacker and second string running back.
“Honestly, I’m having a blast. I never really thought I was going to have fun, but I am honestly. These boys, to me, they’re my brothers,” Grant said.
Both players are juniors, and typically, they have had to do more than their share to earn respect and a starting spot.
“I’ve proved myself by doing everything they do, lifting as much as they do and hitting them as hard as they hit me out on the field,” Chastain said.
“It feels like a special season in general just to be back after COVID, but she has made it an even more special season. To have the first girl to ever suit up and actually play for us and be out there and start,” said Delta head coach Tim Rapp.
“I just showed them my best effort, showed them my motivation, and at the end of the day, they learned that, well, she’s here just like we are. She’s working just as hard as we are, and at the end of the day, she’s trying, and we’re trying, and we’re going to get somewhere with teamwork,” Grant said.
“If anything, it probably pushes players to do better because she’s a competitor,” said Anthony Grahn, a Rio Linda running back.
According to the National Federation of State High Schools Association, since 2008, the number of girls playing football at the varsity level has gone from slightly more than 500 to almost 3,000.
“I just love the contact. I love hanging out with the guys and just proving myself, proving my own,” Chastain said.
Both Kylie and Sydney had never played football before this season. So, picking up the x’s and the o’s of the game was another challenge for them.
“That’s why I say I respect all of them. Because at the end of the day they took the time to teach me what to do, they took the time to help me with what I needed to do and nobody took it easy on me at first, you know. They still don’t take it easy on me,” Grant said.
And neither one of them would likely want it any other way.