Last Friday night, there was an unusual amount of excitement surrounding the final ten minutes of South Plantation High School's latest preseason game. No, it wasn’t because the game was close, and it definitely wasn’t because of anything the opposition was doing – it was almost entirely because of South Plantation’s third-string quarterback.
Erin DiMeglio, a 17-year-old girl, is the reason why everyone was so amped.
Even though she only completed two passes on the night, just by virtue of being out there, DiMeglio reminded spectators how close they were to seeing history. Because preseason games are meaningless (not in a derogatory sense; they literally don’t count), DiMeglio will need to play in a real game in order to go down in Florida high school football lore. Once she does that, she’ll become the first female player in recent memory to suit up at quarterback.
As noted by the Sun-Sentinel:
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Many longtime observers of Florida high school football say they can't remember seeing a girl play quarterback in an official game. They've seen female kickers, receivers, defensive backs and even an offensive lineman, but never a girl in football's most high-profile position.
Even state officials are unsure if this has happened before. While the Florida High School Athletic Association tracks the number of athletes who play each sport, it doesn't keep track of their positions.
To date, state records indicate 523 girls have played high school football in Florida since 1973. Only 36 played last year.
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"We've had girls in South Florida that had the ability to [play quarterback], but they never have," said Larry Blustein, a high school football analyst who has covered the state for 42 years. "You have to give her credit. I've never seen anything like this before."
Once you come to terms with the sheer coolness of a girl not being scared to mix it up with the fellas, the most obvious question that pops into your head is: why? Why would anyone subject themselves to all that trouble, scrutiny and questioning just for the right to be a third-stringer?
Is it because she wants to leave a mark of some sort? Not exactly.
Opening the door for other girls is obviously important to DiMeglio, but that’s not her main motivation for doing what she’s doing. Her main motivation for playing football, actually, is getting the attention of basketball scouts. She hopes that by doing this, she can show them how athletic and versatile she is.
"I think schools will see that I can play all sports," said the 5-foot-6, 160-pound senior. "Maybe being different will help. They'll remember me as the girl that plays football."
If last week was any indication, DiMeglio can probably expect to get attention and admiration from a lot more people than just basketball scouts.