Female football players kick off the season

Audrey Wong, Managing Editor

When most people picture a football player, the first image that comes to mind is someone tall, brawny and usual a male. This year, however, four new female players have been added to the football team.

Senior Amanda White, one of the varsity kickers, thought about joining football in May.  The football coach Alan Vinciguerra asked White and fellow senior Rhea Chowdhury to be on the football team. White’s objective in joining the team was to make new memories for herself and try something different. White was initially hesitant to join, however, because of time commitment.

“Because it is my senior year, and I wanted to make sure I was enjoying homecoming and other clubs,” White said. “I wanted to make sure that football would not be too strenuous.” Nevertheless, Vinciguerra convinced both White and Chowdhury to join and attend practices.

White accomplished many things such as kicking from the 30-yard line, being able to kick around the same distance as some weaker elite football players.

To ensure she would excel as a kicker, White practiced her kicks over the summer. During practices, she became better attuned to football team dynamics as the other players patiently explained them to White.  

“The satisfaction of watching the ball go through the upright [goalposts] and all of the support that my teammates, coaches and friends give. It makes it all worth it,” said White.

Another concern White had was how her coaches and teammates would treat her as a girl on the team. Much to her surprise, however, White found them to be some of the most supportive people throughout the entire process.

White feels that experiencing this journey with Chowdhury is the best part of her decision to play football.

“Doing it alongside Rhea and experiencing everything with her is the best part,” White said.

Although she feels content with her early achievements, such as kicking from the 30-yard line, White has made a new goal for herself: improve every day and make at least three field goals during the season. Each day, she is one step closer in achieving her goal.

Similar to White, senior Rhea Chowdhury joined the varsity football team after the football coach Alan Vinciguerra asked her to. Although she was skeptical at first,  Chowdhury soon found her love for football after attending the first few practices. Chowdhury was inspired by many friends who were already on the football team; they encouraged and supported her to join. Senior Zayhaan (Zay) Batlivala showed his support of his own to help Chowdhury with her journey of becoming a football player.

“Zay would wake up at 6 a.m. all summer long for us to practice our kicks,” Chowdhury said.

Similar to White, Chowdhury was concerned about balancing her time between clubs, homecoming and activities that she could only participate in during high school.

Another thing that Chowdhury thought about was how the team think about last years kicker being changed.

“Joining the football team was a huge change, especially since last year’s kicker was really good. We thought we would get a lot of negativity from the coaches and the team,” Chowdhury said.

This made her unsure at first. However, the players and Chowdhury created a close bond that made her feel comfortable and supported.

A challenge both White and Chowdhury faced was how other students would perceive them. Their classmates were divided between liking the idea of having a girl football player, while the other half did not. Chowdhury realized that she should not care about the negativity around her.

“We didn’t care if people talked about us or yelled at us. We were just going to do our thing and have a good time,” Chowdhury said.

The team surprised Chowdhury with their actions of standing up to students who insulted her.

“The team would defend us when students insulted us,” Chowdhury said.  “I remember that a football player actually went up to [the student who insulted White and me] and said something along the lines of, ‘No, you respect them because they are part of the team. They are doing this and you are not, so you have no right to insult them.’”

Chowdhury is motivated by her team; they are always encouraging. Chowdhury is grateful to the players on the team that support her no matter what, whether she makes her kicks or not. She has a second family, spending time and creating fun memories with them.

Chowdhury works hard to fulfill the team’s needs. Chowdhury looks forward to hanging out with White, playing in games and her kicks for the season. Chowdhury’s current goal is to try and make a 47-yard field goal.

One of Lynbrook’s JV football kickers, sophomore Danielle Ma, initially became interested in the sport last year during Powderpuff where she realized her talent for kicking during practices.

“We were tied against the seniors, and I kicked the winning field goal as a tiebreaker. I can’t believe I made it, it was so nerve-wracking,” Ma said.

Ma was surprised by all the positive comments people gave her. Many of them approached her after the game and told her to consider joining the football team. This shocked Ma; she did not think she was qualified enough to join, only being able to kick from the 15 yard line.

“I felt like kicking for the football team was something I could actually pursue,” Ma said. “That field goal [made during Powderpuff] and the encouragement that came after felt so empowering.”

This led to Ma’s decision to join the football team. Initially, she was worried about being the only female player on the team. White and Chowdhury, however, were already on the team and influenced her decision to join.

Ma was influenced not only by her peers, but also her parents. Ma’s father is an avid football fan and encouraged her to join.

Ma feels fortunate enough to be playing on a team where her teammates support her and treat her like family. She cherishes and values her bond with the team and feels immense pride and joy to be a part of it.

What keeps Ma coming back to football is the feeling of being on the field before the football game.

“The feeling of walking onto the field and the pre-game speech is indescribable,” Ma said.

Her past worries are no longer present, and she feels no regrets about joining the football team.

Sept. 12 was just an average school day for most students, but for sophomore Rei Trujillo, it marked the day she officially put on her Lynbrook football gear and started practice.

When the school year began, Trujillo had not yet made up her mind about joining the football team. After watching her friend, Ma, practice with the team, Trujillo regretted her decision of not joining the team. Trujillo contacted Ma immediately to ask the coach if she could join, and after attending and watching a few practices, Trujillo was finally eligible to begin practice.

Trujillo’s background in soccer helped her adapt faster to the new sport as she was used to the various techniques of kicking and being in cleats.

At first, Trujillo felt awkward because she had joined later than the rest of her teammates. With the help of Ma, however, Trujillo later found herself fitting in with the other players and feeling more included in the football family.

“Knowing the team is a process, it is not given. You must work to develop a bond with them,” Trujillo said.

The satisfying feeling of kicking the football excited Trujillo and motivated her at practice. Due to lost time from joining the team later, Trujillo has yet to kick at a game.

Trujillo looks forward to playing in this year’s games along with being more involved on the field, since she has not had the opportunity to kick at a game yet. She is excited to have more experiences in football such as bonding with the team, improving her kicks and playing in games.