Douglass' Elizabeth Dombeck is no different. Well, she is a little different.
It is normal for a girl to want to get dressed up and be a candidate for Homecoming Queen.
Douglass’ Elizabeth Dombeck is no different. Well, she is a little different.
Instead of a sparkly dress and high heels, Dombeck wore her shoulder pads, pants and customary No. 72 uniform at Friday night’s event.
Dombeck isn’t just a homecoming queen candidate; she is also a defensive end. While she isn’t “one of the guys,” she said her football career has made her feel like one.
“At first it was a little tough,” Dombeck said. “People can be mean. But now we are all very close. These guys are all like brothers to me.”
Coach Jeff Ast said Dombeck obviously stands out as the only female, but he was never going to let that change how she was treated.
“I told her on the first day, you have to understand that you aren’t a girl out here, you are a football player,” Ast said. “I think she caught a little at first. But like any player, you have to earn respect and she has.”
Dombeck first played in middle school. She was raised on a farm and never had time to play any other sports growing up. But her father’s favorite sport is football and she learned to love the game from him.
So when she had a chance, she went out for the team.
Obviously, having a female on a football team leads to some issues with matters like where she dresses and other situations like that. But over the years, Dombeck and the team have found solutions.
She has had to dress in women’s restrooms at some away games and she never gets to be in the locker-room after the game because her teammates are changing out of their uniforms.
But her first year at Garden Plain might have been the worst problem.
As the team got ready to take the field, Ast said a few final words and sent them out. Dombeck was still in her dressing room waiting for a someone to come get her.
“I had to tell her to make sure when she is ready that she gets out there and waits for the team,” Ast said.
Dombeck said playing football has taught her a lot about perseverance and never giving up.
“I get tossed around pretty good sometimes,” Dombeck said rubbing a sore thumb after practice. “But I go through everything the guys do. I run all the sprints and do all the push ups. I’m not out here to be babied.”
“If you can play football, you can play,” the coach said. “We aren’t going to say she can do this drill but not that one because it is hard hitting. If you want to play, that is part of it.”
Dombeck loves the memory of laying out a player from Conway Springs and recovering a fumble during a game.
She said at first, some players from other teams used to give her a hard time. But if they do, they risk a response from her teammates.
“We are all a family out there,” she said. “I’ve had my hair pulled a few times and sometimes other teams say things. But the guys get really mad when they hear that and they have my back.”
But through all the trials and extra troubles that being a girl on the football field can cause, Dombeck said she would tell any girl with a passion for the game to play.
“Don’t let anyone try to stop you from following your passion,” Dombeck said. “It takes dedication. I know how it feels to be torn down for something you love. But you can’t give up.”