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Female football player wants to inspire others to ‘try new things’

By Max Goldwasser

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    SPRING LAKE, Michigan (WXMI) — A senior on the Spring Lake High School football team is kicking down barriers every time she kicks the ball through the uprights.

When Jessica Stewart takes the field, she proves that playing ball like a girl isn’t such a bad thing after all.

“I think it’s just inspiring people like, especially females, to, I guess, kind of break glass ceilings, but just to try new things and do things that you’re scared about doing,” she told FOX 17 Unfiltered.

Stewart, who comes from a soccer background, never thought she would suit up for a football game as a member of the team. However, she learned the team needed help at the kicker position before the season, and she was ready to take on the challenge.

“That’s what makes football great,” said Head Coach Cody Mallory. “It’s got a place for all different types of people, you know. You’re not looking for a specific type of person to play, and so when a person comes out, and they can show that they do the job, the guys get behind them.”

Stewart said she was unsure how being the only girl on the team would go over with all the boys, but those feelings quickly subsided once she stepped out onto the field for the first time.

“All the boys on the field were like, ‘You got this. You got this. Just kick it like you always do, and you’ll be fine,'” she said. “I was just excited. Then it went through, and I was ecstatic and everyone was so happy for me.”

Stewart said she never really considered the impact she might have on future generations when she first joined the team, but the response has brought nothing but smiles to her face.

“I had a lot of like young girls come up to me at the game, or before the game… and they said that they were there to watch me,” she said. “One of my host teachers, she told me that her daughter is in eighth grade and she went to the game, and when she came back, she’s like, ‘I’m playing football because I watched her do that.’ She went and bought stuff to, like, practice and she was, like, ‘It’s because of you.'”

If there’s anything Stewart hopes people can take away from her story, it’s this:

“I hope people just try new things,” she said. “I never would have seen myself here. As a freshman, I never would have seen myself doing this, but I’m glad I am doing it, and I have the opportunity to do it. I encourage other people just to try new things.”

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