Football isn't just for boys

Elizabeth Middle School athletes Paige and Zoey Fink tackle interview questions

Paige and Zoey Fink are taking Elizabeth Middle School football by storm. The 12-year-old twins are in seventh grade at EMS and started playing tackle football this year.
They started their football journey on the playground in elementary school, falling in love with the sport. Going on to play for the Parker Parks and Recreation and Elizabeth Park and Recreation districts, they've been on wildly successful teams, having an undefeated team and winning the championships in 2021.
More girls are playing football each year, shifting both the makeup and outward perception of the sport. Recently the Denver Broncos launched a girls high school flag football pilot program, aiming to help the sport become a sanctioned Colorado High School Activities Association sport statewide. More than 500 girls from three school districts — Cherry Creek, Denver and Jefferson County — are participating this fall.
Paige, Zoey and their parents, Jenifer and Trevor Fink, shared their thoughts with the Elbert County News for a Q&A:

Interview with Paige and Zoey Fink


Why did you decide to start playing football?

Paige: I decided to start playing football because I thought it was very fun. It is also different from what most girls do. I also like to prove people wrong.
Zoey: I decided to start playing football because I love the sport and I knew that boys play it and I wanted to show them that I could too.

Do you want to play in high school and beyond? What are your future athletic goals?

Paige: I might want to play in high school and beyond. I just want to see how next year, eighth grade goes. My future athletic goals are to hopefully keep playing football and some other sports. My favorites are track, basketball and horse show jumping.
Zoey: I want to play in high school and beyond if I don't choose a different path. My future athletic goals are to be one of the first girls to play on my high school football team. I also love basketball, track and horse show jumping. I would love to make these teams in high school and maybe even college.

How does it feel to be a girl playing a male-dominated sport?

Paige: To me, I feel very accomplished that I am able to show the boys how it's done. I love it a lot and most boys on my team are so sweet and they support me and sister with what we are doing.
Zoey: Its feels awesome to play a male-dominated sport. There are times where boys doubt you or won't let you play with them. But there are also some days where they trust you and believe that you can do it.

What advice do you have for other girls who want to play football?

Paige: My advice is you shouldn't listen to anyone who tells you that you can't play because you're a girl. Girls are just as good, if not better (sometimes) than a lot of the boys. You just have to believe in yourself.
Zoey: My advice to girls who want to play football is, just because you're a girl, does not mean you are not capable of doing all the things that boys do.

Interview with Jenifer and Trevor Fink


How does it feel to be a mother of two girls who play football? Nervous? Excited? Proud?

Jenifer: It feels very different being a mother of two girls playing football. They were the only girls on their flag football teams and two of three girls playing tackle football for EMS. Two years ago, I was getting them ready for gymnastics meets … French braids and leotards and now I'm helping them get into their football pads and jerseys. I was so nervous when the girls were on the field for their first game of tackle football. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to watch. I was put at ease when I noticed the boys are not that much bigger than the girls (in seventh grade). Also, the school provided brand new helmets with technology to help reduce the risk of a serious brain injury or skull fracture.
Trevor: As their dad, I'm very proud. I thought I was too small to play as a kid, so I didn't. Not only are P&Z girls, but they're on the small side too. These obstacles did not deter them from wanting to play and that takes courage! We've instilled in our daughters that they can do and try anything they want, and we'll support them 100%. This is also the case with tackle football and as their dad, it makes me feel good that we are supporting their desires and dreams. I have a sense of pride within to know we have two very athletic, talented, and brave girls. I have been a little nervous at times when I see them on the field getting tackled & blocked, but when they pop up the parental worry disappears … until the next play.

What does it mean to you to have your daughters challenging gender norms?

Jenifer: A lot of people have questioned why we would let our girls play tackle football. They say, “It is so dangerous for these little girls!” My response, “I'm not going to tell my girls they can't do something because it is outside of the “gender norms.” Yes, football is dangerous but so is gymnastics and horse jumping … two other sports the girls are or have been involved with. I've watched these girls flip upside down and land on their feet, without a bobble on something that is only 4 inches wide … also known as, a balance beam. They are true adrenaline junkies, just like their mom and dad. When they told me they wanted to play tackle football, I said, “Go out there and get it done!” I support them every step of the way and it is awesome to see them out on the football field, beaming from ear to ear, doing what they love. I am so proud of them. #GIRLPOWER
Trevor: I don't view it as “challenging gender norms” as their dad. I simply view it as my two children are playing the sport they love and want to get better at it. It is a male-dominated sport, that is how others view it. As a rec and Little League coach, I simply see it as my girls are talented enough to play a game and they just so happen to be playing it with boys.
Paige Fink, Zoey Fink, Elizabeth Middle School, Elizabeth, Elbert County, Colorado, football


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