Juliette Haming practiced four nights a week for three weeks this summer with one goal: To play middle school football this fall. But in August, her mother, Dina, was told the St. Agnes School sixth grader in Louisville could not play under Catholic School Athletic Association rules.
Luckily for Juliette, Rev. Tom Gentile, chairman of the CSAA board, sniffed out the issue. He cited a 2013 football handbook review that permits girls to play in the CSAA if such a case ever arose. Juliette, 11, became CSAA's first female player as a cornerback for Central Catholic, a team that draws from a mix of schools.
"Everyone says that I wanted to prove a point or something," Juliette told the Louisville Courier-Journal. "That wasn’t the main reason. The main reason was because I'd never done it before, and I want to play all the sports to see which one I really like."
— Lexy Gross (@lexygross) October 6, 2015
For Juliette to break through the gender barrier, she had to be "Fearless," which she learned from one of her idols. Over the summer at Central Classic's jamboree game, Juliette, chose to wear No. 13, in honor of Taylor Swift.
"The number 13 is an unlucky number, but Taylor Swift has made it the luckiest number it can be," Juliette says. "… Her favorite number has been 13, and it has gotten her all the way there. And I feel like if my number is 13, it will get me all the way there.”
Dina is another of Juliette's role models. Juliette comes from a line of individuals who do not let social norms get in the way of their "Style."
"It wasn't going away," Dina says. “I had a similar thing growing up that she had. I was always told, 'You’re a girl. You can’t do that. You’re too small. You can’t do that.' And I know how that feels. But you can do it.”
Juliette's classmates expressed concern over the "Trouble" her football career could cause and were pretty "Mean." This only inspired some "Bad Blood" for Juliette to "Shake It Off" and find her "Blank Space" on the field.
— Kristina Goetz (@KGoetz1) October 6, 2015
"Some of the boys were saying, 'You’re not strong enough. You can't do this with us,' and we never agreed on that," Juliette says. "All of the kids at St. Agnes knew, but kids from the other schools were like, 'Who is this girl?'"
Juliette did not know much about football before joining the team, but took the time to learn the playbook. Meanwhile, her coach, Henry Hunt, persuaded her teammates to buy in.
"You knock her down, or I’m going to get everybody to knock you down," he told the team. "It’s your job to tackle her. It’s a hard thing for a kid. And most of these kids have been taught, 'Don’t hit anybody, don’t be mean, be polite.' All those great things we teach them. And we’re out here teaching them … a totally foreign thing."
Juliette has one game left in the 2015 season. As for 2016, her status, is uncertain, but she quotes Justin Bieber.
"Never say never," she says.
Good to see someone achieving her "Wildest Dreams."
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.