If you’re at Keenan High School stadium on a Thursday night, you may see the Junior Varsity football team warming up or see cheerleaders cutting flips. It’s a typical team except for number 71.
This player is worth a second look because, unlike the rest of them, Sincere Sugick is a girl. Sincere, who also wrestles and plays soccer, says this is her first year playing football.
She says her teammates accept her but she comes as a surprise to her opponents.
“They didn’t know I was a girl until I took my helmet off,” she says, “All you heard across their sidelines was 77’s a girl”.
While some of Kennan’s opponents may be shocked to see her on the field, it makes sense to her coaches.
“Just me even thinking about telling her no about something like this is not gonna happen,” says Head Coach Ray McCleod. “So that’s not even a thought, you know, so especially here at Keenan.”
Although Sincere is the only girl on her team, she is not alone. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, for the 2021-2022 school year, more 3,000 girls played high school football.
The NFHS survey also shows that since 2010, the number of girls suiting up has more than doubled and it is not limited to high school. Women are also playing the sport professionally.
The Dames is South Carolina’s only professional all-women team; part of the Women’s Football Alliance, with more 60 teams nationwide.
Courtney Counts, who heled start the Dames, says she enjoyed playing football as a kid and wanted more opportunities.
“So, when I got older, I wanted to play football. I’m like hey this is something I like to do, and it wasn’t an option for me,” she says.
It appears that interest in women’s football is growing. According to the WFA, their 2022 National Pro Championship had 174,000 live views. The game was the most-watched event that day on ESPN2.
So, for Sincere and other girls, their football careers may start in high school, but they don’t have to end there.
As for those who think girls shouldn’t play football, Sincere says, “It’s 2023 and that girls can do whatever they want.”