Editor’s Note: This story originally ran in 2016
By Elana Warsen
LUZERNE – Like most siblings, Kaylee (10) and Bryce (12) Widener engage in their fair share of rivalry. But on the football field, they are teammates. What sets Kaylee and Bryce apart from other sibling-athletes is that they are brother and sister playing together in a sport dominated by males.
Kaylee went back and forth about going out for football, or cheerleading, says her mom Stephanie Widener, of Luzerne. Ultimately, she chose football to prove a point.
‘Bryce always said I couldn’t do things because I’m a girl and not tough,’ Kaylee said. ‘And besides, I didn’t really like cheerleading.’
Kaylee’ parents weren’t fazed when their petite daughter decided to play a contact sport.
‘Everyone was like, ‘Are you nervous?’ but Bryce wasn’t much bigger when he started football,’ Stephanie said. ‘Kaylee’ got the aggressiveness.’
Kaylee’and other girls in the sport’will be allowed to play full-contact football until high school, Stephanie said, at which point she will be required to quit the team and play in a powderpuff league instead.
One of two girls on the 5th and 6th grade team at Mio-AuSable School, Kaylee usually plays spur. While her experience on the team has been mostly positive, she says being a girl makes her a target of teasing from other players, including her own teammates.
‘Sometimes I get mad because the boys spin me around and throw me,’ she said. ‘Sometimes it makes me cry and sometimes I say I want to quit.’
But she is, in her way, an unstoppable force.
‘I think they are afraid of her because she’ sacked the quarterback,’ said Bryce, who enjoys having his sister for a teammate. ‘It’ fun. I’m able to help her. I like having her on the team so I can help her, even though sometimes she wants me to stop giving her advice.’
Kaylee’ advice for other girls who are contemplating going out for football?
‘It can be hard, but once you get into it, it’ really fun. You don’t know if you like it until you try,’ she said.
Bryce is even more enthusiastic.
‘Tell them to join!’ he said.