Yesterday was the first practice for the Coolidge Colts, a Washington, D.C., high school football team headed up by coach Natalie Randolph. We all know this because as one of the first female football coaches for a high school, every news outlet in the region and the nation has a reporter on this beat.
Of course, as a woman, Randolph has a lot to prove, not only to her community, her team, herself -- but also the nation that will call foul if it smells a gimmick.
My first thought was, How can a woman coach a sport she's never played? However, Randolph's pedigree includes a membership on the D.C. Divas of the Independent Women's Football League. So this lady knows her pigskin. This is where I admit that I didn't even realize there were female football teams.
The buzz is intense when former teammates and even Randolph's mother are being chased down for interviews. (Randolph's mother, incidentally, recently returned from Haiti where she was helping in the recovery from the devastating earthquake earlier this year.)
So is the lady coach doing a good job? Signs point to yes.
The Colts had grown accustomed to Randolph's leadership over the summer, adhering to her detailed conditioning program five days a week. That program was a major reason they were surprised by their lack of fatigue.
"We must not be human," senior Daniel West told his teammates during a water break, "because humans would get tired in this heat. We ain't tired."
Additionally, the loyalty her team is already showing is truly the sign of a great coach:
It's one thing to have a media outlet send a reporter or television camera out to practice once or twice for a story. Players can prepare themselves for those moments, but it can be a little much when they are under the microscope every day.
Randolph tells them, "'Don't worry about ESPN. Don't pay them no attention,' junior Felonte Misher said. 'But you don't know who's going to be out there watching. It's a motivation, but it's also pressure. We can't make her look bad on camera.'"
I'm thinking this has all the makings for a feel-good movie for a fall 2012 release.
Do you think a woman can successfully coach a football team?
Image via Anderson Mancini/Flickr