Jaylah Naves Makes History on the Freshman Football Team

Under the lights with all the helmets and pads on, you would never know the difference between number 26 and the rest of the numbers on the team. Underneath that helmet and all those pads is Jaylah Naves, a freshman girl who is playing on the freshman football team.

Encouraged by her middle school gym teachers and coaches, Naves decided to try out for the football team this year.

“I choose to play football because I always wanted to play,” Naves said.
Naves’ older brother played football at East, so while her family was a little hesitant at first, this is her first year playing football, they are now very proud of her.
Even with her family backing her up, at first there were mixed reactions from her friends.

“My friends who play football thought it was a good idea,” Naves said. “Some of my friends who are girls thought it was weird at first, but some didn’t mind and they thought it was cool.”

Playing football with a bunch of high school boys can be stressful and intense, but she has always felt welcomed by and a part of the team.

“They even wanted me to play. They encouraged me to sign up.” Naves said.

Naves is the only girl she knows who plays football, but she is still working as hard as she can on the team.
None of the other teams know that she is a girl, meaning that she doesn’t get any different treatment from them.

“No teams we play know I am a girl, the only one who knew was my cousin who we played.” Naves said.

While the other teams not knowing she doesn’t get treated any differently on the field, but her relationships with the guys on her team are different because she is a girl.

“Some of my relationships with the guys on the team are different. I bond with some and some I do not.” Naves said.

Being on a team with all guys sometimes gives people the wrong impression.

“[Other people] don’t know that sometimes they will treat you differently, but they will help you in some ways. They can be harder on you than other boys.” Naves said.

Without being on the team there is no way to really know what it is like, but people often make assumptions about Naves’ experience being on the team.

“There are a lot of things that people assume about me that are not true. Sometimes its my own teammates. Something that people assume is that being on the team is hard,” Naves said.

“I would like to continue my football career. I like playing and I would love to continue.” Naves said.