STRATFORD >> During practice, Stratford junior Genesis Torres isn’t worried about getting hit. She’s a backup defensive back on the football team, so she’s busy delivering the punishment.
“I just went for the legs,” said the 5-foot-5 junior about one of her tackles. “Take them down like that.”
Torres, who also plays basketball and lacrosse, said she wanted to challenge herself this fall.
“Playing football? That’s a little different,” she said. “You don’t hear of girls coming out on the field to play football. That’s why I wanted to do it.”
And her father, Jaime Torres, was proud to see her out there. He said ever since Genesis was 4-years old she’s been a leader, directing traffic on the basketball court and last year making plays for her lacrosse team.
“I wasn’t shocked that she would try football,” he said.
He said he wasn’t worried either, even though Genesis had never played organized football before. She said previously the most she’d done was two-hand touch.
“At recess, just throwing the ball back and forth,” she said. “That’s it.”
Still, Jaime can’t wait to see her make some plays on the football field.
“I would like to see the reaction of the boys (she) tackles,” said Jaime, smiling.
And so far, she’s done well. She collected a few tackles and an interception in a scrimmage and impressed her teammates, too.
“She comes to play,” Stratford linebacker Sam Breiner said. “She’s a good athlete.”
Her athletic ability is why coach T.J. Cavaliere put her on defense and special teams. Many past female football players at other schools in high school and college have been kickers, like Elsa Formiglio of NFA in 2012 or Sabrina Fronte of North Haven last year.
However, Cavaliere saw something special in Torres.
“The best players are going to play,” the coach said. “If she happens to be the best player at that position, she’ll definitely get on the field.”
He said she will see time at defensive back on junior varsity and if any players are lost to injury on varsity, she could play special teams there, too.
“She has an opportunity to get out there like anyone else,” Cavaliere said.
Her teammates view her like anyone else. She said Twitter and the hallways of Stratford High were buzzing with rumors that a girl was going to play football. She said her teammates and the coaching staff have treated her well.
“We’re not like, ‘Oh, it’s a girl here.’” Cavaliere said.
The Red Devils junior varsity opens the season Saturday at 10 a.m. against Joel Barlow at Penders Field. Her mother, Ilissa Gabriel Torres, said she knows Genesis will do well on the field. She was also pleased to know Genesis would be on the other side of the ball.
“I’m just happy she’s doing the tackling as opposed to being tackled,” she said.
To Genesis, it doesn’t matter. The three-sport athlete said taking a hit is just as simple as landing one.
“You can’t really think about it,” she said. “You just have to go in.”
Girls in CT Football
Notable achievements for girls playing high school football in Connecticut. Source: The Connecticut High School Record Book
- First known participant: Andrea Lund, Kennedy-Waterbury, at Seymour, Nov. 12, 1994.
- First participant in a state championship game: Elisa Formiglio, Norwich Free Academy, vs. Xavier-Middletown, Dec. 7, 2012.
- First point: Andrea Lund, Kennedy-Waterbury (point-after kick), at Seymour, Nov. 12, 1994.
- First touchdown: Ashley McKenna, Ledyard (5-yard pass from Ernie Richards), at Bacon Academy, Oct. 11, 2003.
- First rushing touchdown: Veronica Roman, Wilcox Tech-Meriden (6-yard run), vs. Capital Prep, Oct. 28, 2007.
- First field goal: Elisa Formiglio, Norwich Free Academy (24 yards), at Bacon Academy, Oct. 27, 2012.