Girl, 8, plays midget league football: 'I just think it's a lot of fun';
By simply looking at 8-year old Eden Robinson in an everyday location or situation you’d likely be hard pressed to pick out anything about her looks, her demeanor, or apparel that might observably distinguish her from all other girls her age.
If you should go to her school — Southside Elementary at Toler — on any given day and observe her in the classroom, in the hallway, eating lunch in the cafeteria, or even by visiting her in the familiar environs of her Hardy home, little doubt you would think to yourself and perhaps even say out loud, “What a typically cute and charming little girl.”
And you’d be right. Eden has both of those flattering attributes and many more most of the time. But come 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, when she and her brother don helmets and pads and take to the practice field with the 15 other boys who make up the Belfry Redskins midget league football team, she transforms herself into a focused, determined, and very aggressive football player that even her parents and coaches find truly amazing.
“She does very well,” Redskins Head Coach Derek Rash said. “She’s very attentive to all things football, very assertive, and very strong.
“And I’ll say this, she plays hard and all the boys generally treat her just the same as they do each other. They don’t cut her any breaks, at least most of them don’t, just because she’s a girl. And from a coaching standpoint, neither do I. She’s treated the same and expected to perform the same, and she does.”
Perhaps the reason Eden developed her football qualities, her father Bruce Moore Jr. says, is because her two older brothers — her current teammate Japeth (most notably known as “Truck”), 9, and Isaiah, 14, who plays varsity football at Belfry High School — introduced her to football, as well as helped nurture a love for the sport at a very young age; and ultimately, “made her as tough as a pine knot.”
“She’s always been a rugged little girl,” Moore said. “Her two older brothers roughed her up pretty good … you know, the way brothers will do sometimes. Anyway, her brothers were outside one day playing football in the rain and she started playing with them and just fell in love with the game.”
Having a child playing such a physically demanding and oftentimes injury-laden sport might give most mothers cause for alarm, perhaps even more so for a daughter who probably would be more physically suited for sports with less contact like basketball or baseball. However, Eden’s mother, Chazidy Robinson, who confesses while she normally might agree with that line of thinking, eventually decided Eden has both the tough mindset and physical attributes that give her a slight edge over most girls her age.
Chazidy believes those mental and physical advantages, along with the fact that she personally doesn’t believe there’s really that much difference in physical strength or ability at the midget league level, eventually helped persuade her to give in to Eden’s request to play, and ultimately, resign herself to it.
“Naturally I’ve had a few people come up to me and say she’s a little girl and she might get hurt,” she said. “But the bottom line is I’ve always supported my kids no matter what they’ve wanted to do.
“I certainly didn’t want to place limitations on Eden just because she happens to be a girl. If this is what she wants to do, I’m going to be as supportive as I can and help her achieve it as much as I can.”
Assistant Redskins coach and father of twin boys who practice with and play alongside Eden almost on a daily basis, retired Kentucky State Police Officer Henry Banks, says he, for one, is glad Chazidy did allow Eden to play.
“I see her every day, and I honestly believe she’s the toughest player on the field,” Banks said. “She’s so very competitive. If her brother does something like, say, kick the football well and gets praise for that, she can’t stand it until she does it as good as him.
“She’s just a very tough and very dedicated player, and the fact she’s a girl hasn’t diminished her determination in the least.”
You would get no argument or even the slightest deviation in opinion from Eden’s teammates, particularly from Banks’ two sons, at least when it comes to Eden’s toughness and ability.
“I think it’s a good thing she wants to play,” Steven Banks said.
“Actually, she’s a pretty good football player.”
While Steven’s twin brother agrees with that simple assessment regarding Eden’s abilities, he confesses he hasn’t yet quite gotten past his chivalric, perhaps chauvinistic, male way of thinking.
“She’s very athletic and very fast,” Jonathan Banks chimed in. “But sometimes I can’t help remembering she’s a girl, so I guess I still sort of treat her a little different than the boys, especially when it comes to being rough on her in practice.”
And Eden herself, well, she doesn’t see why she or any other girl playing football should be considered by anyone, even somewhat chivalric or chauvinistic teammates, as being a big deal.
Mostly, she says, everyone should simply consider her as being your normal, everyday kid having a whole lot of fun playing a sport she truly loves as much or more than any boy.
“I don’t think about me being a girl,” Eden said. “I just think it’s a lot of fun, especially when I’m making a tackle. I think I like (making a tackle) more than making a touchdown.”
By Bruce Justice