BY JASON MALLOY
Kings County Advertiser/Register
Sydney Jackson has proven she belongs.
The Grade 10 student at Central Kings Rural High School injured her wrist during the first football practice, but refused to throw in the towel.
Despite a cast on her right arm covered in bubblewrap, Jackson got on the field in the first quarter of the Gators opening football game Sept. 8 at Acadia.
"I got a little bit nervous but the guys told me just to do what I did at practice and just go in and have fun and try my best," the defensive back said late last week.
"Once I got in, it got really exciting. I got pumped up and I wasn't nervous or anything."
She saw limited action in the first game, but with the cast now off she was excited for Saturday's game against Dartmouth in Burnside. Results were unavailable at press time.
Jackson is the first girl to play for the relatively new football program at Central Kings and one of the few across the province.
"Sydney is a great athlete. She plays rugby, she's tough," coach Larry Priestnall said.
"I think its great to see females play."
Jackson said her only football experience before this year was playing for fun with guys in middle school. When the Central Kings gym teacher started asking students this year if they were going to join the football team, Jackson decided to give it a shot.
Once I got in, it got really exciting. I got pumped up and I wasn't nervous or anything. - Sydney Jackson
"It was definitely different being with the guys and not being with the girls," she said of the first practice.
The guys "all asked me if I wanted to come back out and I said, ‘yeah, I'm going to keep coming.' "
As each day went on she felt more accepted as part of the team.
"The next practice got a little bit harder but I just had to stay with it. The guys actually believed I was going to stay with it so they all supported me really well," she said.
"They didn't treat me special or anything, which is what I wanted."
Jackson said her rugby experience helped prepare her for the physical aspects of football but pointed out the sports are quite different. She thinks there is room for girls to play the sport and hopes more get the chance.
"It's a great opportunity. It's fun to be able to play sports with the guys and not just the girls," she said.