Gage Park High School is changing the face of football with 3 pioneering female players

Chicago (WLS) — When Gage Park High School alumni Dominic Robinson, Janille Marino and Jamia Cochrane competed for the Owls last season, they knew they had a lot to prove.

“My friends said that women can’t play ball. When I told my mother about it, she and my grandmother encouraged me to play football,” Marino said.

Head football coach Michael Norwood recalls when they first approached him about challenging the team.

“I was like, ‘Okay, let’s play football,’ but I didn’t know they were coming out and making an impact on the field,” he said.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover. They were better than some,” said football player Justice Aibel.

But like all players, it took them a while to find their stride.

“My first game, oh my god,” said Robinson.

“I used to be scared to hit it sometimes, but I got used to it,” Marino said.

On game day last season, Norwood alerted opposing coaching staffs to his unconventional roster.

“I have a few women on the team and they say they look shocked,” he said.

The team has three female players this season. Ahead of the first game, wide his receiver LaShanda Washington has already earned the respect of his teammates.

“I showed them I could catch the ball and I could run,” she said.

And if any of the competitors see having a female player as a disadvantage, the team says this.

Soccer player Keith Santana said, “It will be good because we can show them why we have girls on our team.

The team will play its first game of the season on Saturday.

Robinson, Marino and Cochrane want more girls to try soccer.

“For women who want to play sports, for boys’ sports, get out there and show that you should be there,” Cochrane said.

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