The five women who are making history as the first all-female hs football officiating crew
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - What started as an initiative to get more referees for Texas High School games is now history-making, gathering five women from all across the state to be the first all-female officials team when they take to the field for Texas SixMan Coach’s Association Division I All-Star game.
“An opportunity to show that women can be a part of and are a part of football officiating contrary to the stereotype of football,” Valerie McIntosh, who will be this Saturday’s back judge.
“We all jumped at the opportunity of this,” Amy Smith, the line judge, added, “to be able to officiant all together and go up there and meet with the crew and call a great game.”
Each of the women came into officiating in a variety of different ways. When it came to football they said there was no hesitation: they knew they belonged.
“I quickly realized: I’m just one of the guys,” Jenifer Calhoun, the umpire, said.
“They’ve really taken me under their wing just like any other official and just trained me and wanting me to succeed just like they would any football official on the field,” Crystal Cooksey said.
“I watched how men treat each other and I watch how they treat me and I’m being treated no differently and it’s really nice to be a part of the community of officials,” McIntosh added.
As trail-blazing women in sports, the impact of Saturday’s game isn’t lost on them, and they hope it will help other women and girls take that leap of faith.
“We can be afraid and still do it anyway,” McIntosh said.
“When we talk female officials versus male officials I think on the field we’re just officials,” Rachel Stepien said.
“Just do the work and come join us,” Cooksey added.
Cooksey is used to making history in Texas: in January she became the first woman official to work a Texas state championship and is a Texoma native, born and raised in Seymour.
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