When you're the only girl on an all-boys' high school football team, it's important that your teammates treat you like family, and are willing to work with you on the field.
At least that's what Isla David has learned.
The 16-year-old athlete just completed her football season as the only girl on the Auburn Drive High Eagles' team in Cole Harbour, N.S., earning the championship title with her teammates last week.
David said as the only girl on the team she was nervous at first, but the boys quickly made her feel comfortable in the sport.
"They just didn't treat me different or look at me differently, so I just felt like a teammate," David told CBC Radio's Information Morning Halifax on Monday.
"And when there [were] people giving me a hard time on the other teams, they stuck up for me, so I knew I had people that had my back."
David said she grew up watching her brothers play tackle football, but she's always played flag football.
"She fell in love with that right away," said Ian David, Isla's dad who was her first flag football coach.
"And everyone was like, 'She should play tackle, she should play tackle.' I'm like, 'No, not my baby.' And here we are, two years in, a 45-[yard] kick later, right?" he said with a laugh.
David said she's been tackled during games before, but it doesn't happen very often because she's a kicker.
That has brought her dad some comfort, but he still remembers the first time she was hit.
"It was a bad snap. She took off running for a two-point convert and she almost got in the end zone and a guy from the other team came over and he just rocked her and I held my breath," Ian David said.
"I thought she was hurt, like the hit was really hard, and she jumped up screaming, 'I almost got in. I almost got in,' but she didn't even care that she got hit."
David has been playing football for two years. (Submitted by Isla David)
Ian David said that moment made him realize she's tough and can handle any hits. He said he's proud of his daughter.
"She's always had the — I guess because of her older siblings — she's always had that drive of, 'I can do anything,' and she just puts her mind to it," he said.
And that's what she did during the Nova Scotia High School Football League final game against the Bay View Sharks last Sunday.
David said one of her most exciting plays during that game was when her team was penalized and she was forced to kick from further back than she normally does.
"[Everyone was] like, 'Yeah, good luck with that,' and then the guy that holds the ball for me, Ayres Perry, he looked at me, he goes, 'No, you're all money, you're going to make this,'" she said.
"I was like, I can make this. And it went into the uprights and went right in."
David said she was actually excited when they backed her up further because she wanted to show how far she can kick.
"I knew she had it," her dad said. She has this never-give-up attitude so I knew she had it. ... She was like, 'This game was too big for me not to make that kick.'"
The Eagles' team came out on top, winning 31 to 6.
David plays several other sports, including flag football, soccer, track and rugby, which she hopes to continue to play through university.
But she doesn't think she'll continue to play football in university, because of the lack of opportunities for young women in the sport.
For now, she said she's looking forward to mentoring a new group of Grade 10 athletes who will be joining the team next year.
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