Chloe Hinkle, 10, of Hamburg, brought home a wrestling sign-up paper in third grade because she wanted to try the sport. After being told that she would not be able to because of issues with her being a female, she was disappointed but got over it.
Then in fourth grade, she brought home a football sign-up and now holds her own and more on the field with her teammates.
“I explained to Chloe just how hard football can be,” said Chloe’s mom, Rachel Wanamaker. “I warned her that she could get hurt. She would be pushed, tripped and tackled. Not just messing around with friends tackled, taken down with force to stop a play by boys who have been playing for years tackled.”
Wanamaker said that Chloe’s response to all of that and being told that the fee was not refundable so she would have to tough out the season, was “I know mom. I watch football and they wear pads!”
When asked why she wanted to play football, Chloe responded, “It’s a fun sport.”
“I was kind of nervous to go out there,” Chloe admitted on her first time out on the field with her all male teammates. “I was pretty impressed because I won at my sprints.”
Not only has she held her own with her teammates, but she finishes first, second and third when it comes to sprints and is part of the first line (the lines for sprints are based on the speeds of the athletes so that they are running with others who are around their speed).
Compliments came from Chloe’s coaches, Chris Wade (President of the Hamburg Youth Football and Cheerleading Association) and other parents about Chloe’s play and how well she was doing on the field.
Wanamaker recalls Wade saying that he was impressed with how she just “hangs with the boys” when it comes to playing.
Of course to get to the point where others could see Chloe’s natural athletic ability on the field, she needed to be able to play. Hoping to receive a different answer than when it came to wrestling, Wanamaker called Wade to check if a female would be allowed to play. Wade responded that he had never had that request before and would look into it. Wanamaker remembers Wade saying that he was exciting about the request and hoping that she would be able to so that the association could have their first female playing for Hamburg. The call came back with Wade saying that he could not find it written anywhere that a female could not play and no one that he spoke with had a problem letting her play.
“Yes, Yes, Yes! I’m gonna play football,” said Chloe upon hearing the news, according to her mother.
Though some may have been worried about being the only female on a team full of males in a very physical sport, Chloe was worry free when it came to her teammates.
“It’s gonna be fine,” she said when asked if she had any concerns.
Chloe’s teammates have welcomed her into the football family and treat her as one of them. She worked at the same level as her teammates during practices and impressed everyone around her. In her first game she was at the tight end position blocking and at cornerback defending the wide receivers. Though she had little experience leading up to the first game, she was out there blocking and tackling with no fear.
It was during her third game that Chloe got the ball and turned what should have been a four yard loss into a seven yard gain and in the process she dragged three defenders with her before going down. Chloe had her first interception in the seventh game of the season and ended the season with a total of four interceptions. She was very sad to see the season come to an end, even though she is currently playing basketball and looking forward to baseball in the spring, and is counting down the days to the start of football practice. Chloe is also setting goals for next season.
“More interceptions,” she said. “And touchdowns.”
Chloe’s family is looking forward to next season as well and impressed with how well the last season went.
“I couldn’t be more proud of her for giving it a shot, giving it her all and accomplishing all that she did,” said Wanamaker. “I can’t thank Chris Wade and the coaches Mason, Bear, Moseman, Sammons and Eppihimer enough for giving her the chance and supporting and encouraging her the whole way. Coach Rick Mason was amazing.”
As for what Chloe’s favorite part of football is, she responded, “Mostly everything about it.”
From the reactions of all those around her, Chloe certainly impressed this past season. There is much to look forward to as Chloe continues to play the game she loves with what many refer to as her natural ability on the field.
She also has confidence. When asked who her favorite football player is, Chloe first responded, “Me,” before taking a moment and replying again with “LeSean McCoy.”
Chloe is ready to have an even better season than the last and looking forward to impressing even more people this upcoming football season.