When Krista Byers went to sign up her son, Brady, for youth football two years ago in the fifth grade, her youngest daughter, Zoey, then 8, wanted to play, too. Krista really didn’t think Zoey was serious, but thought it was cute of her to ask.
The next year, Zoey announced one more year and she got to sign up.
“At this point, I thought maybe she is serious. It never crossed my mind once not to let her play,” Krista said.
This year, Zoey, 10, got her chance, playing for the Princeton fifth-grade squad that won their side of the conference and played for the league championship.
She said her brother inspired her to play.
“I watched him play a lot. He kept asking me if I was going to play. I said I’ll try it out,” Zoey said.
Brady was surprised.
“I didn’t think she’d finish it, but she did,” he said, noting his friends all “thought it was cool” that she did.
“(The boys) thought it was pretty cool to have a girl on their team,” Zoey said.
The boys found out that Zoey, who dances when she isn’t playing football, is one tough little girl. She battled an assortment of injuries, including a broken thumb to start the year out.
Shane Byers, a member of Princeton’s 1989 state runner-up team, was at a lost of what to say to his daughter when it came to playing football.
“I remember him asking me what he was supposed to tell his ‘little girl.’ Do I tell her to hit the other guy harder than they hit you? He decided yes. … I tell her the same things I would tell my son,” Krista said.
Both Byerses wore No. 16.
Zoey played middle linebacker for the Tigers. She said it was fun, because you didn’t have to worry about too much, “just watch people on the side.”
Zoey said her dad “showed me how to do a 3-point stance and kick the ball and stuff.”
Brady’s favorite position to play is wide receiver. He also played cornerback and was the Tigers’ back-up quarterback.
The seventh-grade Tigers finished the season undefeated (9-0), defeating Rockton 14-6 in the Big 12 championship game at Bryant Field. It was the only points Brady and company surrendered all year, outscoring their opponents 186-6.
“We went undefeated. Last year we lost by three points in the last 12 seconds and it felt good to come back to win it this year,” he said.
As for having two sets of smelly gear now, the Tigers mom said she wouldn’t trade it for anything. After volleyball, the former Krista Hansen (Ohio Lady Dogs) said football is her favorite sport.
Zoey has not made up her mind about playing next year or not, but she sure had a great first year.
I’d like to wish our publisher Sam Fisher well as he leaves the BCR and heads off to the Illinois Press Association. Good luck Sam.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.