South Plantation High School in Plantation, Florida, has the state’s only varsity quarterback who also quarterbacks the girls’ flag-football team and is a star point guard on the girls’ basketball team. Senior Erin DiMeglio, South Plantation’s third-string quarterback, first drew the attention of the football coach with passes that were too hard to be catchable by her flag-football teammates. He asked her to throw to the boys during a workout, and then she asked to throw in a helmet, and then she asked to throw in pads, and then she asked to play, and the coach said no way, and then “she wore me down and she wore her parents down,” he says.
When the Seminole Ridge Community High School announcer told the crowd Erin DiMeglio was at quarterback, there was little reaction, because the name Erin, when pronounced, does not connote a gender. But then everyone saw her ponytail swaying as she jogged onto the field. Then there was some buzz. Is that the girl? Can she play? Can she throw?
South Plantation Coach Doug Gatewood knew that the answer to all three questions was yes. The one question he did not know the answer to, and did not want to know, was whether she could take a hit. So when DiMeglio dropped back for her first pass, saw no open receivers, and began to roll to her left, Gatewood felt queasy.
“Go down, Rock,” he said quietly. “Go down.”
DiMeglio, who is 5 feet 5 inches and 140 pounds, did not go down, but she did fire a pinpoint pass to a receiver, who turned upfield for a 10-yard gain. Fans cheered. Cheerleaders chanted Erin’s name.
Okay, quasi-unrelated, and just a personal thing for me: I hate to see a quarterback slide. I understand why they do it, and there’s sense and logic to it. But when I actually see it happen, my automatic thought is, Oh, just take the hit, you big weenie. And this is fully in the knowledge that my own response would be less drop-and-slide than kneel-cower-and-pray. So I already have some affection for DiMeglio just for staying on her feet and completing the pass.
I also like that apparently her nickname is “Rock.” That’s a cool nickname.
DiMeglio took two snaps from shotgun at the end of her team’s first game of the regular season and handed off both times. If South Plantation can manage a few more blowouts like this weekend’s 31-14, she could get a chance at her goal of throwing a touchdown in a varsity game. So that’s on y’all, offense.