Eighth grade girl participates on football team
Atlantis Belgarde has never been one to back down from a challenge.
When some of her classmates made the claim that girls couldn’t play boys’ sports, she set out to prove a point.
This fall, Belgarde joined the eighth-grade football team at Rugby, in the process developing a love for the game, a talent for loud burping, and a hope that she can be a trailblazer for other girls.
“I wanted to prove them wrong, and I actually liked the sport,” said Belgarde.
Belgarde was nervous at first, but she said the boys on the team treated her like any other teammate.
“I liked that,” she said. “I didn’t want any special treatment. I wanted to be treated just like they did.”
Belgarde even extended that “one of the guys” attitude on to the bus rides to games.
“When I burped, it was louder than anyone,” she laughed.
A running back wearing No. 13, she said putting on the pads and helmet gave her a newfound strength.
“I felt pretty tough putting on all the pads,” she said. “Getting on field, you feel like you have a lot of power. I thought, time to hit some boys.”
Although members of the team had a bet that she would get injured and cry, it never happened. In fact, the biggest hit she received came from a friend playing on an opposing Bottineau team.
“I got smoked out of nowhere,” she said.
Aside from that, she said the closest she came was getting the wind knocked out of her a couple of times.
She said her coaches, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Voeller, were very supportive of her role on the team.
The experience was so positive for Belgarde that she wrote about it for an assignment in her English class.
“I would like to encourage other girls to play,” she said. “Girls can be just as strong as boys.”
More than anything, Belgarde hopes she set an example of following dreams.
“If you want to do something, go for it,” she said.
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