Girls playing tackle football in elementary school is becoming more common every year. But girls playing quarterback, like Oraze 5th grader Emily McFarland, is still rare.

"Quarterback is obviously the hardest position to learn and she's picked it right up just like our other quarterbacks," said Oraze coach Aaron Bell. "She's just like everyone else for sure. If not a little better than everyone else."

Emily is one of the Bearcats' best players, and her speed is her biggest asset. McFarland said the thing she love the most about football is, "Well the running part, the ball part, and me getting to hit somebody."

"She really surprised me just not being afraid," said Coach Bell. "If anything they might be scared a little bit, especially the younger guys. But yeah, absolutely, they treat her just like anyone else."

And the fact that she is a girl playing against boys is not an issue for her teammates or opponents. It's actually the opposite. Emily is inspiring other girls to give football a shot.

"It feels awesome because some people think since we're girls we can't do what boys can do," said McFarland. "I just wanted to change the way people think and stuff."

Part of earning respect is proving toughness, and Emily gets her fair share of big hits in practice and in games. Her response, bring it on.

"Some guys think girls can't take hits and stuff," said McFarland. "Everybody knows me because I play football at recess. So they know I can take the hits."

"Being one of those moms on the sideline, that's what I'm telling her," said Christine McFarland, Emily's mother. "You go out there and you hit them just hard as the boys do. Don't you let them think because you're a girl, that they can get away with it. You show them that you're tough."

And with a football loving family firmly behind her, Emily will continue to be a star quarterback for as long as she wants to play the game.

"This is what she wanted to do," said Christine McFarland. "And we were in no way going to stand in front of a dream that she had. So yeah, we support her."

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clovis, clovis unified school district, good sports, david bataller
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