Sam Gordon is a bit of a football celebrity, which is odd, since she's a sixth-grade girl. But after her father posted YouTube videos showing her dominating her male teammates in youth football games -- the pinnacle coming when one of the videos earned 5 million hits in one day -- Gordon drew the attention of big-time NFL names. She met Roger Goodell and was invited to attend Super Bowl XLVII.
She maintained her presence as a YouTube sensation and later starred in an NFL Play 60 campaign. This past winter, she got the change to meet Aaron Rodgers. But her latest achievement might be the most impressive: The young girl has helped launched the country's first tackle football league for girls.
The Utah Girls Tackle Football League is the first of its kind, and it's drawn enough participation that the league has fielded multiple teams. Gordon is one of its players and one of its advocates, too. This week marked the first day of practice for the teams, which will play their first games this weekend.
According to USA Today's FTW, Gordon helped spark the league to life when she asked an assembly at her school how many of the girls would like to play tackle football. Almost all of the girls raised their hand.
"It just made me think, if there's this many girls in just this one school that want to play football, imagine how many girls out there want to play football," Gordon told FTW.
She went home and told her father, Brent Gordon, who in turn connected with Crystal Sacco, a former offensive lineman for Utah's semi-pro women's football team. The idea continued to gain steam, and 50 young girls were ultimately recruited to the league.
This year, the league plans to feature four teams that will play a three-game season. But there's hope that the league will expand next season, adding more teams and a longer schedule.
Gordon says that so far, the experience of playing with girls is mostly the same as playing with boys -- except for one difference.
"The boys, I feel like it's super strict," she says. "But with the girls, we're all just so excited to be here and it's so fun."