Girl plays ‘boy’ sport: Eden Ovadia paves the way for women in football

By Sara Shohoud

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omestead has made history. Senior Eden Ovadia is the first female to play on the boys varsity football team for two seasons, playing as a wide receiver and free safety. Ovadia was able to try out for the team with the help of her teacher, she said.

“One of my teachers was the [football] coach when I was a sophomore. He talked to the head coach [and] asked if I [could try out],” Ovadia said.

She has earned her badges like [every player has]. She [had] to go through her physical fitness touches [and] sprint a certain amount and make those times.”

— Coach Milo Lewis

Once she joined the team, Ovadia said she dealt with obstacles presented as being the only girl. Male players didn’t value her skills, and Ovadia was concerned that her coaches were not taking her seriously, as well.

“I change in the girls locker room, but the rest of the team changes in the guys locker room. [The coaches] hear everything that guys say, so if they’re saying things like, ‘Oh she’s not really here to play’ or something, the coaches might take [the rumors about me] seriously,” Ovadia said.

Varsity head coach Milo Lewis said Ovadia deserves to be on the team like everyone else.

“She has earned her badges like [every player has],” Lewis said. “She [had] to go through her physical fitness touches [and] sprint a certain amount and make those times.”

Milo said Ovadia is not the first girl to try out for the team. However, she is the first one to take the sport seriously and commit to the responsibilities being on the team entails, he said.

“She’s the first one to stick to it,” Lewis said. “The other [girls] that came out didn’t understand what it meant to do football.”

Senior players Tommy Cacho III and Greg Tsao also said they agree Ovadia deserves to be on the team.

She puts in the effort, Cacho said, which is why she deserves to play.

“I feel like she’s [just] another person on the team,” Tsao said. “Anyone who wants to put the work in can be on the team.”

However, even with the support of her teammates and coaches, Ovadia said she still notices the gender difference.

“It’s not like their fault, [but my] gender just automatically [makes] … differences,” she said. 

Even though these obstacles are present, Ovadia said her presence on the team is an improvement in the lack of girls in male-dominated sports. People are finally recognizing that girls can play in “tough” sports, too, she said.

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