Gridiron girls: Decatur Middle School has inclusive football teams

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DECATUR, Ala. – Three Decatur Middle school girls are breaking barriers. They say their journey has been filled with scrapes and bruises, but nothing feels better than tossing the pigskin.

Courtney, Yamilet and Kate play for Decatur Middle’s 7th and 8th grade football teams.

Yamilet Ortiz said she’s had to push herself to get in shape for the season. “We had to run, it’s a lot of running. We had to run bleachers, lift some weights, stretching,” she explained.

Kate Parker said she’s waited for years for this opportunity and she feels invincible on the turf. “I love it so much. And i love being out there. It means so much to me to just be out there and getting to play,” said Parker.

The girls said their parents were a little apprehensive about them playing such a rough game.

“My mom used to tell me how my brothers used to accidentally hurt people and break their legs,” explained Courtney Wynn, Decatur Middle 8th graded. “I hope I’m just going to avoid that, I still want to play.”

“I just have to keep telling myself it doesn’t matter how big they are,” added Parker. “You just hit them as hard as you can. Do your job the best way you can and try to protect the quarterback.’

Their goal isn’t to be better than the boys. They’re looking to score some respect on and off the field. For girls who want to play, the girls say don’t hesitate, just jump.

“Step out of your comfort zone and do something new,” said Wynn.

“You’re just as good as anybody out there, you are strong, you are beautiful and you are amazing. You can do whatever you want to do,” said Parker.

So far the girls have only played two games this season. They say their male teammates embraced them with open arms and push them to be better every day.