SCHENECTADY — Football?
It’s not just for the boys, and the NY Knockout wanted to make sure the couple dozen young girls at Thursday’s football clinic at Girls Inc. understood that.
“That’s the reason we’re here,” said Theresa Butts, owner of the NY Knockout, a women’s tackle football team based in the Capital Region. “It’s to teach these girls that football is not just a men’s sport. That, in fact, there is no sport that’s just for men. That there is no job that’s just for men.
“We have a phrase that’s called ‘We play, too.' So it’s really just teaching them that maybe it’s not football — maybe that’s not their thing, and that’s fine — but it’s just to show them that there are not boundaries.”
Several players from the Knockout worked with the clinic’s participants on passing, receiving and learning how to run routes. The Knockout, a member of the Women's Football Alliance, also used the afternoon as a team-bonding experience.
“Here, it’s more about giving back to the community. We’ve been pretty big on that,” Knockout head coach Lou Butts said. “All of our home games, we’ve donated to Girls Inc., Ronald McDonald House and other charities. We don’t take a dime from our home games. We give it all back to the community. So, for us, this about giving back and being part of the community.”
Girls Inc.’s aim is to “[inspire] all girls to be strong, smart and bold,” and Knockout captain Alaina Lange said her team was happy to play a role toward achieving that goal.
“When you run clinics and things like this, the girls, especially, they start to learn and understand that their world is bigger than maybe they’ve been taught or seen otherwise,” said Lange, who coaches soccer at the high school and club levels in the Capital Region. “We’ve actually seen a growth in girls playing football around the [area]. The movement is to get girls’ teams at the Pop Warner level, the middle-school and high-school levels, so that girls don’t necessarily have to mix in with the guys anymore. . . . They can jump onto a full team of girls playing football and it’s just as fun, just as interactive, just as hard-nosed.”
More girls playing football in the area could help the Knockout, too. Members of the team who were at Thursday’s clinic said the team’s small roster size for its 2019 spring season made things difficult, at times, for the Knockout.
The Knockout is holding several upcoming tryouts, including one 9 a.m. Saturday at Schenectady High School. Along with the coaching staff and new recruits trying out for the team, members of the team’s current roster will be participating in the workouts as part of the team’s offseason program.
“It’s for us just as much as it is for everybody else,” Lange said. “We have offseason workouts that we’re supposed to be doing, and we have other events and things that we’re supposed to be doing, so our tryouts, and our open practices and closed practices are a way for Coach to see where we are and gauge where we are as players.”
Tyrell Feaster is an intern at The Daily Gazette. Feaster, a junior at the University at Albany, is majoring in journalism.