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Southampton Academy seventh-grader Mina Johnson is the first girl to play football for the Courtland school. Mina was benched during Thursday's game after the Raiders' opponent threatened to forfeit if a girl played. DON BRIDGERS/TIDEWATER NEWS

Archived Story

SA girl football player sits out

Published 11:24am Friday, October 7, 2011

BY KATE ARCHER/CONTRIBUTING WRITER

kate.archer@tidewaternews.com

COURTLAND—The first girl to play football for Southampton Academy sat out during Thursday night’s junior varsity game.

That’s because opponent Northeast Academy threatened to forfeit if starting eighth-grader Mina Johnson played.

“The Northeast Eagles said they wouldn’t come to the game and would forfeit because I am a girl,” said the 5-foot-2, 170-pound defensive player, who sacked Rocky Mount’s quarterback four times during a 30-24 win on Sept. 22.

Mina chose to sit out.

“During conditioning, I often refer to Mina as an example to the team of how to hustle and work hard on the field,” Coach Brian Parker said. “She really does deserve to play.”

The coach and the headmaster for Northeast Academy in Lasker, N.C., did not return phone calls to The Tidewater News.

SA Athletic Director Dale Marks said Word of God Christian Academy is also considering not playing on Thursday, Oct. 27, if Mina plays. The academy’s coach and principal did not return calls.

Both teams belong to the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association. According to the league website, participation by boys in girls’ sports and vice-versa is prohibited.

Mina’s mother, who says her daughter has always been athletic, isn’t happy about the matter.

“There is nothing in the rule books for junior varsity football in North Carolina or Virginia that says a girl can’t play,” said Mona Johnson. “No one is breaking any rules by allowing her to play.”

“I absolutely hate this for Mina and for the team,” she continued. “They are all just kids playing a game and having fun doing it. It’s terribly unfair to them all.”

Parker earlier in the week told the team about Northeast’s stand.

“Everybody was upset,” Mina said. “They told us to ‘let this be a spark’ toward winning the game.”

It was.

The Raiders defeated the Eagles 60-0 during Thursday’s home contest.

An honor-roll student and daughter of Franklin surgeon Gregory Johnson, Mina’s interest in football was sparked by her 15-year-old brother, Greg, a sophomore lineman and guard for the Raiders’ varsity squad.

“One day on the school bus, Greg started teasing me that I could be a linebacker,” Mina said. “I didn’t even know what that was, so I looked it up on the Internet.”

She tried out for SA’s junior varsity team and made it.

“I was so excited,” Mina said. “I knew absolutely nothing about football before this year and am learning so much as I go along.”

Mina also likes that’s she’s making school history.

“This is something you can’t take away, ever, and it’s me doing it,” said Mina, who plays nose tackle, left guard and linebacker. “My first game, I took down a 6-foot quarterback.”

Greg is very proud of his sister.

“Every time she makes a hit or a good play, my friends and I all cheer for her,” he said. “She’s definitely got me beat on the speed thing.”

On Thursday, Mina’s teammates wore pink socks and armbands to recognize her and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“The team thought it would be a nice gesture,” Parker said.

Mina will continue to practice and aspires to play varsity ball. Aside from the bruises, a sore knee and a twisted ankle she said, “getting up when you fall down is the hardest part. You have to brush it off and get right back in the game.”

  • players11fan

    To be a good newsreporter you should do your investigating before plastering things on the internet for everyone to see that are only half-truths. The mother, Mona Johnson, should try to do the same as well. She obviously did not do any research into the league association that is in place in North Carolina and Northeast Academy currently must abide by…NCISAA. More educated people would have looked up such facts before telling lies…or should I say people not trying to attract attention for their children.

    Taken straight from the NCISAA CONFERENCE handbook.

    V. NCISAA GENDER POLICYExcept as provided for in a particular sport under the Sports Specifics section of this Handbook, participation by boys in girls’ sports and girls in boys’ sports in any event hosted and/or sponsored by any NCISAA school is prohibited.

    So, to Mona Johnson,Kate Archer, all concerned citzens , Mina Johnson, and her teammates, try to look the same information up as this has obviously yet to have been done. Northeast Academy prides itself in following the rules whether it pleases everyone or not. Word of gGod is in the same conference and will probably be demonstrating the same actions. If not, they have the choice to be penalized and kicked out of said conference. So tell me everyone, should these schools follow the rules or not? Ignorant comments are not necessary.

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    • Maxdoubt

      Thanks for your research. As a concerned citizen I have a couple of questions:

      1. Since the game in question was sponsored and hosted by Southampton Academy how do the rules of the NCISAA apply? (Southampton Academy is not a member of the NCISAA.)
      2. This young lady has played against at least 3 other NCISAA schools. What punitive measures are being taken against those schools?

      Thanks.

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      • B2S

        Bingo. Brains always beats anonymous sissy/bully tactics. Hope you’re not waiting on a response – the only one possible would require a big fat helping of crow and we know sissy/bullies never own up to their mistakes.

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  • trise79

    You go girl. I read your article on yahoo and had so many memories flood back. I played foot ball in sixth, seventh and eighth grade. Right tackle first string. 5 10’ and 190 pounds. Hated the way I looked in those pads at first and then came to love them. I had plenty of people not liking that I played. A few Mothers tried to stop me from riding on the buses. Couches on the other side sacrificed plays just to try and take me out. Actually try to hurt me, I had to sit out part of a game because it. (My other team mates kicked their butts!) My father and a couple of my coaches got into fights because of peoples reactions to me playing.
    I even almost got my parents investigated for abuse because of the bruises on my arms. When my principal found it was me he rolled his eyes sent me back to class and made the school consoler go to my next game. She became a fan. Lol.
    But I also got good reactions too. Women would come into the bathroom, weight room, or locker rooms where I had to suit up by myself and they would cry and hold my hand and tell me how proud they were of me. That I was helping women move forward. I thought she was nuts but now that I am older I realized she never thought she would see the day when a girl would play a men’s sport. (I played it well!) My team mates were the best boys you could play a game with. My coaches were some of the best men I have ever known.
    Plus the game is fun! Taking down bigger boys is a blast! Nothing is better then hearing a crowd chanting your name. Best sport I ever played!
    And while I can not hold your hand and tell you how proud I am to your face. I’m all the way in Texas! I AM proud of you and do NOT listen or care about any criticism. Have fun and kick some butt!

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  • sled82

    to , Mina Johnson go kick some butt. I got mad respect for u and all full contacted players. I played from pee wee all the way to 12 grade. had a girl on my team tho high school and boy did she hit hard still have a broke tooth..lol

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  • sgtchip22011

    Also I grew up in Virginia when we weren’t traveling the globe like lots of military kids from all branches of the military. One of my sisters is NSU Alumni and the other is HU and even attended HI before the grant money came to Hampton institute. Come on Hampton and VA lead by a good example and don’t let us have to follow others examples. Of bad sportsmanship Northeast Eagles?!

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  • sgtchip22011

    (Part of my comments are about Jasmine Plummer who made history playing football as a girl and history is never kind to those who will make it now the same is happening to Mina Johnson??? Why???)

    The gridiron girl
    … her Harvey Colts to the Pop Warner Super Bowl, becoming the first female QB … brave and very strong girl.” And, it seems, she’s not the only one. Pop Warner …

    These are my comments. I just called the newspaper and spoke to a very nice lady. I am mad and upset that Mina could not play. It’s cowardly for the other team to forfeit. This is the same trick that is fomented against girl wrestlers. And it is so 20th century. I was a SP a Air Force cop. Many women (girls no offense) were in my unit and in police academy. We do a dangerous and sometimes thankless job. And the “girls” have to be as tuff as the guys. They carry M-60 machine guns loaded with ammo, they fire grenade launchers, they jump in and out foxholes, they dodge enemy fire and avoid IED,UXO’s and land mines. We give them no breaks and they expect no breaks women earn their police badge and authority like men.

    Now Mina Johnson has earned her right to play football through lots of blood,sweat and tears. I know I did play football in my little league days ages ago back in 1973. Give he her chance she has earned it and you go ALL THE WAY Mina (HOO-AH) …btw Shannon Faulkner made history when she entered the Citadel now women freely earn the right to enter one of the most competitive service academies in the nation because a “girl” had the courage to bust down the walls of chauvinism. Best of Luck and God speed to you Mina and to all young women that follow in your footsteps!

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  • prncss001

    Well.. I say I am glad to have this young lady amongst our midst. She is a prime example of the protential our next Y genration has to compete with. Not to menton.. she is FAMILY…. We love her and support her in all she wants to do. Instead of prohibiting young people of doing whatthey see is there niche, we needto support them and keep the ball rolling for those behind her. KEEP UP THE GOOD JOB AND MINA, WHEN YOU ARE OUT ON THAT FIELD.. TALKING THAT QUARTERBACK, THINK ABOUT HIM BEING THE ONE WHO SAID YOU CAN’T DO IT.. AND JUST DO IT.

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  • bobs94

    “Both teams belong to the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association. According to the league website, participation by boys in girls’ sports and vice-versa is prohibited.”

    The coaches were following the rules according to the article.

    @Mojo- You ever hear of a CDC growth chart?

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    • Maxdoubt

      To clarify, The schools in North Carolina are in a conference(NCISAA)that does not allow the member teams to field girls in boy’s sports. SA is not a member of the NCISAA but is in the Virginia Commonwealth Conference (VCC) which has no such rule. There is no rule that bars NCISAA schools from playing against a team with a girl. The school Mina played against earlier was a NCISAA school.

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  • Makalani

    Shame on that wimpy team for threatening to forfeit.
    “HMMMMM?” Did Mina’s 4 sacks have anything to do with that decision? The prospect of the star — prima donna quarterback being sacked by a girl? HEAVEN FORBID!!

    Can’t blame Northeast Academy’s players/coaches for not wanting to be upstaged/outplayed/shown-up by a girl in a supposedly male game.

    “You go Mina!” Football is as much about brains as brawn. Apparently — you got enough of both to intimidate opponents without taking the field.

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  • journeylandjudy

    Keep breaking through the barriers, Mina! One day those simple minded coaches who chose to forfeit will realize the horrible example they set for THEIR players.

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  • sugabritches

    This is a wonderful example of a the character of a student athlete who truly loves what she does and who just wants to be out on the field enjoying the game. Way to go Mina. I wish you and your brother continued success on the athletic field and bravo to SA for supporting you.

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  • Maxdoubt

    The article says Mina chose to sit out the game. It was my understanding as well, that she wanted her team to play and kick butt. She dressed out and was on the sidelines for the game supporting her team and anyone who was there saw the great fun the kids had. It looks to me like everyone involved on the SA team and staff acted honorably.

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  • rpope

    Mina is my HERO.

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  • bobs94

    Am I the only person that is concerned about this girl’s health? She’s 5’2″ and weighs 170 pounds? And her dad’s a doctor?
    As far as playing is concerned, let her play. I see no problem with it at all as long as there’s no girl’s team. I would not however allow another team to forfeit because of one player. That would ruin the experience for the rest of the team, an experience that can’t be replaced.
    I also have this thought to offer. Would all of you be inclined to allow a male on the girl’s volleyball team if there isn’t a boy’s team? It’s only fair, right?

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    • vapolitico

      That is a good point about a boy wanting to play volleyball with the girls. Would SA allow it? If not, I think a double standard exists.

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      • amanda_cake

        It’s not just about whether or not SA would allow a male on the volleyball team, it’s also about the league’s rules for such things. If they had enough interest, they could have a boy’s volleyball team.

        For whatever reason, you don’t hear about a lot of boys who want to play on girls’ teams.

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      • B2S

        Well, since you don’t know for certain and it’s not been attempted, what you “say” doesn’t have the first bit of credibility. A girl playing a boy’s sport isn’t an advantage on the part of the girl just by virtue of physical differences. A boy playing a girl’s sport does give the boy an advantage for the same reason. Don’t you see this girl isn’t trying to get over, isn’t trying to do something easy, isn’t asking for special treatment, just wants to play a sport she’s clearly qualified to play. You’d do well to keep what you think about a completely hypothetical sitution to yourself at the risk of your true motivation being laid bare.

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    • MojoRisin

      “Mina chose to sit out.”
      I can assure you this was not taken lightly, she is an excellent sportswoman!

      @bobs94 what has her height,weight and her father’s job got to do with anything? Would 5 ft 7in and a 100lbs suit you any better? Lets be real this is not a Barbie world!

      Mina you GO GIRL!!!!

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    • B2S

      Dare you to try to keep up with her in conditioning – surely you aren’t saying she’s overweight or unhealthy, are you? Well, are you? Ridiculous.

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  • billyboy

    Great kids, great family, great parents!! Mina is in my son’s class at SA and also plays beside him in football and I’ve never heard him say anything but good things about her on and off the field! Anyone who saw her play against Rocky Mount JV on September 22 will definitely say she BELONGS out there!! 4 sacks of the QB that night and is ALWAYS hustling, she’s an inspiration to all she plays with! Keep up the good work Mina!

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  • amavredes

    Way to go, Mina. The girls here in your dad’s office think you are awesome and we are so proud of you! You are setting a great example and you are also a wonderful role model. Keep your chin up!

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  • Mom2ethanbree

    GOOD JOB SA!! Im glad you destroyed them on the feild. Thats what they get for threatening. I agree with Amanda though, why not just allow the forfiet. What type of example is this setting? If you threaten not to play us, ok we will just bench the girl. Grow up people.

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    • B2S

      I’m not sure a forfeit counts as a win for seeding, so it would have been to SA’s disadvantage to have a forfeit on its record rather than an outright win (it may, however, have helped the opponent’s record to have the forfeit, so they obviously knew they were going to lose and were trying a very cowardly, unsportsmanlike way of improving their own record by trying to make a “point” – don’t worry who you hurt in the meantime). Ms. Johnson is an inspiration and credit to the sport, her school, her family and her gender.

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  • happycamper

    Good for Mina. Good for SA. Bad for Northeast Academy!! Get with it, folks. This is NOT 1965. If she’s good enough to make the team, she deserves a chance to play. Except for the opportunity to pad the scoring average against NA, I may have accepted the forfeit!

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  • hellcat

    What an outstanding young lady! I hope the opposing teams realize she is the real deal and back off with their childish actions. More power to her! I also commend Southampton Academy for allowing her this opportunity.

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    • amanda_cake

      While it’s great that SA is letting her play, what kind of example are they setting by benching the girl? I would have let the other team forfeit.

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      • franklinnative62

        I would have to agree with Amanda. If the other schools don’t want to play because of her, make then forfeit. It’s hard to believe in this time that people act this away about a girl playing on the team. As long as the school doesn’t have a girl’s football team, then she has the right to play on the boys. Same with any other sport at the school. Girls played on the soccer teams at Franklin over the years, and no one threatened to forfeit then. Good for you Mina for getting out there and doing what you want to do. Don’t worry about anything negative being said about you playing. You are a great example of how things should be done. Good luck in the future.

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