Small towns are not always full of opportunities to be unique, and not every individual is seeking the opportunity to be so. Navy Woolsey, daughter of Jesse and Cari Woolsey, loves all things outdoors. She loves to ride motorcycles, play sports with her friends and ride her skateboard.
This may not be typical for a 9-year-old girl, but it is definitely typical Navy, so it was no big surprise when she approached her parents about playing football. “At her very last baseball game this summer, she turned to me and her dad and said she wanted to play football,” said Cari.
Navy was the only girl on her baseball team this year as well because at her age, the girls have the option to play softball instead, but she wasn’t interested in softball.
Dad, Jesse, was really excited. He played football himself and has always loved the sport. “He was really worried that people would think he has pushed Navy to play. I reminded him that anybody that knows Navy knows that there is no talking Navy into anything. If it’s not her idea, it’s not happening,” smiled Cari.
She admitted that she was scared at first, before the season started, but after watching her run play after play with no fear…she knew Navy could hold her own out there.
“When baseball ended I didn’t want to wait until basketball to play sports. And I thought football looked fun, and it is! I’m having tons of fun. My favorite part is running the ball,” Navy said excitedly.
In some areas it might have been a fight to get a girl on a team, but the Woolseys were thrilled when they handed in the fee and application and Morgan WWFL representative Carol Brooks said she was excited to have her play.
Navy’s teammates are excited to have her there, too. Teammate Jake Hansen says, “it’s cool” to have Navy on his team. “She’s a really fast runner and she never cries,” praised Jake.
Jake’s mom, McKenzie Hansen, who is always in the sidelines taking pictures said, “The boys all love her and think of her as one of them. Like a sister they want to protect and cheer on! I’ve been so impressed with the boys and how accepting they all are with her.”
Cari echoed that statement saying, “The boys definitely are not easy on her, but I don’t feel like they treat her like ‘one of the boys’ either. When it comes to playing the game, they treat her just like any other player, but off the field they treat her with respect. They do seem to want to protect her, which I love. I feel like that says something about their parents and about the coaches.”
While she has experienced a couple hard hits, her parents are proud of what she has learned. “The best thing so far has been the confidence I see in Navy. I think she’s proud of herself and knows that she can do hard things. It’s also been really fun to see the friendships she’s made with the boys on her team, boys she wouldn’t have known or talked to at school normally,” noted Cari.
The experience has not only been a growing experience for Navy, but also for her teammates. McKenzie added that she believes having a girl on the team creates a better dynamic in football for these “little guys.” She continued saying, “It teaches them that girls can handle doing hard things, too, and it teaches them that stereotypes are false and should be encouraged to be challenged!”
When she is not playing sports, Navy also loves to draw and just hang with her friends.