Lynbrook’s first female receiver: Kasturi Kirubaharan

Kasturi+Kirubaharan+walking+away+from+the+field+after+practice+with+the+rest+of+the+team.

Jasmine Rihal

Kasturi Kirubaharan walking away from the field after practice with the rest of the team.

Jasmine Rihal

Lynbrook has a new player on JV football: freshman Kasturi Kirubaharan, the first ever female wide receiver on the team. Lynbrook has had a handful of female football kickers in the past, but Kirubaharan is the first to play the wide receiver position. Although football is traditionally a male-dominated sport, there is now an increasing amount of female representation within high school and college football.

Receivers are an integral unit on the offense, and their primary role is to catch the ball thrown from the quarterback and run it across the field toward the end zone. In a game, the receivers typically have to outmaneuver the defense’s cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers. In her first year of playing football on the team, Kirubaharan is looking forward to learning more about the sport and setting an example for other girls with an interest in football.

Kirubharan’s love for football was sparked at a young age when she played football with her cousins, and she continued to play with her friends whenever she had the chance. When she discovered that girls could try out for the football team, she seized the opportunity, picking the receiver position because that was what she normally played with her cousins and friends.

“When I catch the ball, it just gives me a really nice feeling,” Kirubaharan said. 

Unfortunately, Kirubaharan has not had the chance to play in a game this season because the official JV program was canceled due to a lack of players. Nevertheless, she has been practicing diligently with the rest of the team to further her passion for football.

No high school in the U.S. has an official girls tackle football team, so girls who want to join are directed to the boys team. When trying out for the boys team, there is no guarantee that they will earn a spot. At Lynbrook, the coach allows anyone to try out for any position, but the end goal is to place players in a position where they can be successful. Everyone has to participate by attending trainings and events, regardless if they play.

Being in the minority on the team, girls who participate in football may experience more anxiety than the rest of the male players, often resulting in struggles to grow as an athlete. Fortunately, at Lynbrook, the team treats Kirubaharan as their equal and ensures that she always feels included. On the football team, Kirubaharan is accompanied by seniors Tammi Trujillo and Srinidhi Sathish, who also share the experience of being girls in a male-dominated sport. 

The coaches have made strong efforts to ensure that inclusivity is at the forefront of the team’s priorities.

“She’s part of our family,” varsity football coach RJ Davis said. “We become role models and lead by example. One of the most important things that I promote is family.”

Many female football players, including Kirubaharan, wish that there was a separate girls team that would allow them to play among themselves. They believe that it would foster a safer playing space and promote opportunities, like scholarships, for aspiring female athletes. In California, girls only make up 0.5% of football players in high school; one reason for this small percentage may be the fact that some girls are initially uncomfortable joining a team that does not already have many or any girls.

Coach Davis also believes that a girls football team should be created, as the amount of female involvement is steadily increasing.

“If that’s the direction that we’re gonna go, why not make it accessible?” Davis said. 

Although society has portrayed football as a male sport, a rapid upsurge of girls entering the football field has constantly challenged that stereotype. Lynbrook’s first female receiver — Kirubaharan — demonstrates that in breaking loose from gender norms, girls can play any position that they want.