LINDALE, TX (KLTV) - A junior high girl wants to play football in Lindale, but she says the coach laughed in her face and advised she would not be able to play like boys on the team. Lindale ISD says they do not discriminate and she can become eligible to play. District officials are now looking into what exactly was said.
Jennifer Perales, 13, says she has always loved playing football, but now she wants to play on a real team.
"I have a lot of energy and I like hurting people so I like tackling," said Jennifer.
"She's played football pretty much since she could walk," said Sherry Perales, Jennifer's mom. "If my daughter wasn't built for this I wouldn't allow it but she's very strong and she can handle a hit."
But Jennifer and her mom claim Lindale's junior high football coach was not receptive to the idea and even handled it unprofessionally.
"He pretty much laughed at us," said Sherry. "He said in my 40 years of coaching there's never been a girl on my team and I will retire before I will allow one."
"He just asked me if I wanted to play and started acting like I was a little girl," said Jennifer. "[He] made like a baby voice like, 'So you want to join little girl?'"
"He said, 'You need to talk to that coach over there. She does volleyball,'" said Sherry.
Lindale ISD says they are now looking into the matter.
"As a district we know there are conflicting reports of what she said and what the coach said," said Maya Bethany, with Lindale ISD.
But, one thing is clear. The district says Jennifer and every other student is eligible to play.
"She is absolutely allowed to play," said Bethany. "The one issue right now is she needs to have her physical done but she is allowed to play just like any other LISD athlete."
In fact, a female football player is not a new concept at Lindale.
"We did have a kicker at the varsity level play about three years ago," said Bethany.
But, Jennifer says the response among her fellow eighth graders has not been easy.
"The boys were like making fun saying, 'Oh my God a girl is going to join,' and started laughing," said Jennifer.
"It's small-minded and it's sexist," said Sherry.
Jennifer says now she just wants to prove to everyone, a girl can play football just as well.
Lindale ISD says there are not even try outs for their junior high team.
The UIL says there is no rule that would prohibit females from playing football.
Do you think girls should play? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
UPDATE: Girl practicing football at Lindale JHS says mom