SALT LAKE CITY – The first known all-girls tackle football league has been formed in Utah featuring a star player who earned an invitation to the Super Bowl three years ago thanks to a highlight video of her exploits against boys.
Sam Gordon, 12, is part of a four-team league for fifth-graders and sixth-graders that started play last weekend in West Jordan, KSL-TV reports.
This is the first known all-girls youth league in the country, said spokesmen for two of the largest national youth tackle football organizations, Pop Warner USA and USA Football.
As a 9-year-old, Gordon gained national attention after her father posted a highlight video of her running for long touchdowns against boys her age. She appeared on "Good Morning America" with her likeness on a custom-made box of Wheaties. She was invited to the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
She played the first of three games Saturday and told KSL-TV afterward that she hopes the league inspires other girls to put on helmets and play tackle football. "It was really awesome because girls can play with girls, and it's full-on tackle football," Gordon said.
Gordon's father is one of the organizers of the league, which will consist of three games for each team. They are using eight-man football rules.
Mandy Cook said her daughter Whitney loves the league.
"She's pumped and she's excited," Mandy Cook said. "It's the best thing that's come around in Utah in a long time."
Another participant in the league, Kat Kirby, shares Gordon's hope that girls tackle football leagues spread across the state and country. They go at each other just as hard as the boys, Kirby said.
"It's not flag; it's full-on tackle," she said. "We hit each other hard."