MCS girl finds fun in football

Published 12:41 am Thursday, September 10, 2009

SELMA — Except for a sprig of hair sticking out under her helmet, Mallory Freine doesn’t look much different from the other players on her Meadowview Christian School Termite football team.

Ten-year-old Freine of Selma has the admiration of her coaches, the support of her parents and the following of the MCS fans as the Trojans’ first female football player in school history.

The Trojans’ Termite team played its lone home game of the season Tuesday night in Selma against Kingwood Christian School. Freine was a team captain.

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Despite the historical significance, she’s just an active, athletic girl, said her parents, Roy and Sandy Freine.

“She likes all sports — basketball, volleyball, whatever there is,” Sandy Freine said. “She just wants to play.”

Roy Freine, a captain in the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, said Mallory did what she had to do to play football.

“She asked everyone at the school all the questions herself to play on the football team,” he said. “She got all the information and said when I had to be at school.”

Freine said football is just another activity for Mallory that gives her a chance to play with other kids.

“She’s played with the kids here,” he said. “She just wants to play ball and have fun.”

Mallory’s mother said she wasn’t receptive at first about her daughter’s desire to play football.

“I was a little hesitant to have her play football,” Mrs. Freine said. “But I was also hesitant with (her brother) Justin. I guess it was more careful than anything.”

Justin is a senior wide receiver for the Trojans.

“She wants to be just like her brother,” she said.

Mallory hasn’t had any problems with playing running back or outside linebacker.

“I haven’t heard her say that she didn’t like anything about playing,” Mrs. Freine said. “She did say she didn’t like the heat.”

Elton Reece, executive director of the Selma Parks and Recreation Department, oversaw the city’s rec league football from 1991-2000. He remembered having girls on those teams.

“Since 1991, we’ve had four girls. So it’s not unusual,” he said. “In fact, we try to discourage girls from playing.”

Mallory’s coach, Scott Gunter, said she plays on the third- and fourth-grade team. She is a fifth-grader, but the school didn’t have the numbers to field a fifth- and sixth-grade team. Her squad has 16 players.

As for her football talents, Gunter said she has advantages over her teammates.

“She’s doing real good; she’s the fastest player on the team,” he said. “She’ll be the starting running back and outside linebacker.”

Although she knows she’s different, Mallory doesn’t take advantage of it, Gunter said.

“The feedback she gets from the team is positive,” he said. “One time I said, ‘Come on, guys, let’s run the play right.’ And she said, ‘I’m not a guy; I’m a girl.’

“Playing with the boys doesn’t bother her at all,” Gunter said.

Mallory also doesn’t back down from a challenge, he said.

“We’ve got one guy who is the biggest guy on the team. During practice when we were hitting each other, she called him out,” Gunter said. “She said, ‘He’s the one I want.’ And she hit him hard. She’s not scared of anything.”

Because the Termite team is the first organized football for many players, the learning is beginning.

“She has a lot to learn about football, like all of them,” Gunter said. “We have six who have probably played organized football before.”

Gunter said Mallory is a part of the team.

“She is a joy to coach, just like all of them,” he said.