You're never too young
2 female high school athletes breaking records, barriers
A few seconds is all it takes to change the future for women in sports. On the track and on the football field, young women are changing the way the game is played.
“I like running the 100 and 200,” said Lauren Williams.
Williams is the 13 year old who is called “the fastest girl ever.” ESPN says she’s an athlete to watch -- one who could change the sport. She’s been nominated as Sports Illustrated “Sports Kid of the Year,” dubbed “The Blur” and has clocked the fastest 100 meters ever by a pre-teen.
“I started running when I was 7 years old,” Williams explained. “I ran my first meet when I was 5. I won my first meet. I like running because I like surrounding myself with my friends, and I just love the feeling track gives me.”
If she continues to pick up speed, pros believe she will set new standards for track and field. Her speed secret?
“I was taught at a young age how to focus and get things done,” Williams said.
“This, in part, for her life, is what she’s been called to do, so we are just going to nurture that,” said Lauren's mom, Lorraine.
To avoid burnout, this straight A student practices just three days a week for 90 minutes but that will pick up as she inches closer to the 2016 Olympics. To reach her dreams, it all comes down to time.
“In the 100, I have to decrease it by a second. In the 200, two seconds,” Williams said.
For Erin Dimeglio, it took just seconds to get in the history books. Erin became the first high school female quarterback to take a snap in the history of Florida varsity football.
“I’m a girl, stuff like that, but I don’t see it as that,” Dimeglio told Ivanhoe. “I see it as someone just playing the game of football.”
Varsity Coach Doug Gatewood saw her skills while coaching her flag football team. He invited her to throw with boys but never intended for her to play.
“I said, ‘Understand, it’s a completely different game once you put helmets and shoulder pads on,’ and she goes, ‘Well OK, give me a helmet and shoulder pads,’” said Gatewood.
Erin had already suffered a broken nose, concussion, and dislocated fingers playing basketball. On this field, she fit right in.
“They say, ‘Well, when she gets hit by a 300 lb. defensive lineman, you’ll see,’ but my Running Back weighs less than her,” Gatewood said.
“I actually want to get hit in the game,” Dimeglio said. “It looks pretty fun.”
The hits came but not from the field. Bloggers questioned her ability -- saying girls had no place on the field. Her teammates were quick to defend.
“To me, I think they were kind of jealous because she can actually play,” said John Franklin III, Starting Quarterback.
“I see her as part of the family, and I don’t like it when you talk about the family,” said Alex Collins, Starting Running Back.
Erin is one of a growing number of girls to play high school football. More than 700 are playing in the U.S. While 500 girls have played for Florida teams, none have entered the game as quarterbacks -- until Erin.
“I’ve coached 21 years, and I’ve seen a lot of kids. She could’ve started in a lot of scenarios,” Gatewood said.
Erin’s mom, Kathleen, hopes what her daughter is doing will change the playing field. “It makes me feel good because it makes me feel good for girls and the future,” said Kathleen.
But for Erin, the media hype is much ado about nothing. The senior has a 4.2 GPA and is enrolled in three college courses, basketball, football, and plans to play lacrosse. She still feels she has a lot to prove. Those few minutes were not enough.
“I want to show everybody that I can do more than that. Throw a touchdown pass. I can do this. I can do this. Read defenses. I can be as good as the boys can,” Dimeglio said.
In the most detailed study of its kind, researchers at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found that Title 9, which was put into effect 40 years ago, explained a 20-percent increase in a woman’s education and a 40-percent increase in the rise of employment for 25- to 34-year-old women. It also found that girls who play sports had a 7-percent lower risk of obesity later in life.
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