By Talia Richman
The Baltimore Sun
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) When Jacey Lee runs out on the M&T Bank stadium field for the game between the two city high schools, school officials say it will mark the first time a girl takes the field in the storied Poly-City rivalry.
The Baltimore Sun
On the night of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute’s homecoming dance, junior Jacey Lee will be far away from the school cafeteria, where many of her classmates will sway under dim lights.
Members of the varsity football team aren’t supposed to attend Friday night’s dance. The Poly Engineers’ coach expects them to get a good night’s sleep, so they’re ready to face off against their foes of more than a century, the Baltimore City College Knights.
Jacey, 16, is no exception. And she believes she has to be extra focused: When she runs out at M&T Bank stadium Saturday for the noon game between the two city high schools, school officials say it will mark the first time a girl takes the field in the storied Poly-City rivalry.
While she isn’t a starter with guaranteed playing time, this is the game Jacey has always dreamed of playing in.
She knows she has to bring it.
Coaches and teammates say that’s what she’s been doing for years, ever since she first tried out for the junior varsity football team as a freshman. The next year, she was named a JV captain. She’s now the first girl ever to make Poly’s varsity squad.
“At first, it was a big deal,” said Jacey, who’s barely 5-foot-4. “But since I’ve been here three years, everyone just knows, ‘Yeah, Jacey’s on the football team.'”
Boys’ participation in high school football has been steadily declining in recent years, which some attribute to widely publicized revelations about the dangers of repeated blows to the head. But while thousands of boys step back from the sport, girls are increasingly signing up to play, albeit in small enough numbers that it still turns heads when long hair tumbles out of a football helmet.