Word started circulating that San Gorgonio’s got a girl football player.
Leslie Tristan, said the school’s longtime athletic director, Matt Maeda. “A reserve player on defense,” he said.
I’m afraid to write anything, I told my editor, James Folmer, a veteran of many years on the news desk. Football females aren’t totally old news, but it’s close.
Afraid on many fronts.
In this day and age of political correctness, I’m afraid of a reverse reaction.
It almost seems like we’re going out of the way to spotlight someone only because of her gender. As a writer that loves covering football, I’m looking for playmakers to write about.
Anything else isn’t relevant.
You can hear it now: “My kid made 11 tackles and sacked the quarterback last week. You didn’t write anything about him.”
Blockers, linebackers or placekickers that boot balls into the end zone rarely get their day in the spotlight. Does a female deserve special treatment? My guess is she’d probably prefer to lay low until she did something on the field to help her team.
Football, like most sports, is about making plays.
Say we go ahead and do a story. The standard questions:
“How do your parents feel about this?
“Who got you started playing football?
“You afraid of getting hit?”
Answers to each of those questions could be spun into a nice article.
Questions for the coach:
“How’s her workload?
“What are the guys’ reactions? Do they take it ‘easy’ on her at practice?”
“Has she put in the required time in the weight room? Grass time?”
More questions for the gal:
“What’s it like going up against an opposing team that knows you’re female?
(Don’t forget, she’s wearing a helmet; few might not be able to tell they’re playing against a female.)
“Who are your favorite players? Do you have a favorite team?”
If you want to take a crack at the parents, you ask: “Is your medical coverage up to date?”
Let any girl play that’s worked for her uniform. When she makes a tackle, intercepts a pass, scores a touchdown, that’s when the media goes to work.
Girls have played. Christina Ma’tau, played defensive tackle at Banning High. She earned a shot in the 2016 War of the Wheel rivalry game against Beaumont. Started that game, in fact.
Rival coach Will Martin said, “I’m sure coach (John Stockham) knows what he’s doing.”
Stockham, in a game against a lesser opponent, snuck Ma’tau in at fullback for a few carries. Ma’tau, who played one season, had earned her stripes.
Tristan’s a junior defensive end, listed at 5-9, 164 pounds.
Back in, say, 1997 or 1998, Redlands High’s Samantha Grisafe made the Terriers’ Varsity as a backup quarterback. It was right around that time that rival Redlands East Valley came to life.
Grisafe had split time with another quarterback in Junior All-American Football.
When it came time to play high school, Grisafe suited up at Redlands, the other QB veering off to play at REV. Wound up starting for the Wildcats, in fact.
In the Terriers’ game against REV, Grisafe got her chance. Handing off on every snap, Redlands drove downfield for a touchdown.
Grisafe, by the way, is a singer, songwriter, musician, actor who actually played pro football for the Chicago Force, a team in the International Women’s Football League.
She threw 24 TDs one season, plus a few buckets full of yards.
Her career spanned from 2007 through last year.
We’re hoping Tristan can make it big, too.