South Bend native shares what it's like to play football as a gi - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend native shares what it's like to play football as a girl

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We wanted to know what is it like for a girl to join on a traditionally all male-team?  We spoke with the family of a Riley High School Grad who says playing football certainly changed her life.

In 1999 Allison Nickle told FOX28, "Definitely had some doubters last year.  People told me I couldn't do it."  That's when she was the kicker for Riley High School Football.

Now she is Allison Nickle Egidi and all grown up, living in Virginia.  But her parents still remember those doubters.  "It was controversial...there were a lot of coaches and players that were not enthused about it at all," said Allison's Father, Andy Nickle.

Allison said it was an uphill battle to join the team.  "They made me do all the summer training, the running, the lifting, which generally a kicker wouldn't do any of that."

But she said she impressed the coach and earned a spot.  "He sat the team down and said look she's done everything you guys have done...she's staying."

But that was just the beginning.  Each week presented new challenges.  Allison remembers one away game vividly, where she said, "they had people lined up at the tunnel to spit on me."  "That was challenging but we knew that was gonna be a part of it.  And we warned her of it...you do this you're gonna have people that want to see you fail," said Andy and Tina Nickle.

But there were good times too.  She became admired by some.  Allison remembers another game where she said, "they were lined up where you could enter the locker room...just a line of girls on the fence asking for my autograph."

Allison said both the good and bad made her who she is today.  "I would hands down say it was probably the most transformational experience of my life.  It has still to this day affects my day to day life."

Because of the Lawsuit filed Thursday by the ACLU on behalf of a Winimac Family who said the school won't let their daughter play football we asked Allison and her parents if they think the 12-year-old Winimac girl should be allowed to play with the boys.  Allison said, "I am big on the earning your spot and I think if she is as good or better than these guys that she should be able to play."  Her Father Andy Nickle said, "This is a high testosterone macho sport and there will be people who thing a female does not belong on that field and you better have the right personal make up emotionally and physically to go through it cause you're gonna hit a lot of challenges.  People want you to fail and they'll give you every opportunity to fail."

Allison said she's used her own experience with football to help her succeed in life.  As an investment banker she was often the only woman in high powered meetings and now working for the University of Virginia she will still often be the only woman in meetings.  But she said she's never been intimidated by that.

 

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