12-Year-Old Girl Who Fought To Play Football Takes To Gridiron For First Time On Home Field

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UPDATED: Wednesday September 4, 2013 10:24 AM

She's the 12 year old who took on her school district for the right to play football and won.

Tuesday night, Makhaela Jenkins took to the gridiron for the first time on her home field.

It was last month that officials at Liberty Union Thurston schools told Jenkins she couldn't play because football wasn't an option for female athletes in the district.
 
After the ACLU got involved, the district changed its position, granting her the opportunity she's been waiting for.

A lot of people would say the gridiron is no place for girls, that football is just too physical for females.

Tuesday night, on a Fairfield County field, one Liberty Union Lion set out to prove otherwise.

Underneath the helmet and pads, the number 80 on her back, was 12-year-old Makhaela "Maks" Jenkins.

Her mother Anjee Jenkins watched from the stands.

"I feel very proud,” she said. “I'm happy for her that she's out there doing what she wants to do."

Maks took the field ready to fight -- it's what she had to do just to get here.

School officials at first refused her a spot on the team, before relenting under threat of lawsuit.

"She fought for what she believed in and she achieved it," said her mother.

And while Maks made history as Liberty Union's first female to play football, on Tuesday, she wasn't the only girl on the field.

Wearing number 72 for the Hamilton Township Rangers was Bailee Thevenin.

"I like that,” said Thevenin. “I think that's pretty cool. I never met a girl football player."

Thevenin said she wouldn't be here without her teammates.

"They encouraged me to play, my team. They got me papers and encouraged me to play,” she said.

She hopes Jenkins has the same welcome

"Just try your best and stay strong and don't give up of what people would say to you," she advised her.

In the end, the Rangers routed the Lions.

But Jenkins still felt like a winner.

"It felt pretty natural. And I felt really good," she said. "I feel like I'm one of the team. I'm not better than anybody, but I'm still pretty good."

She would have liked a few more points on the board, but she’s already proven she's no quitter.
 
"Just keep on trying, and don't give up," she said.

Jenkins and Thevenin aren't alone.
   
The Ohio High School Athletic Association said that in their most recent survey, there were 53 girls playing football in Ohio schools.

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