As time goes by seemingly every generation is more progressive than the one before it. Current high school students are cultivating a culture that is one of the utmost inclusivity. The best example of such a shift, at least in the sporting world, is the increased rate of young girls playing football.
Last school year we highlighted Santa Clara Bruins defensive lineman Racquel Blassingame. This year, the spotlight shines on Fremont Firebirds junior Tanvi Wadhawan.
Inspired by several friends on the football team to join them in summer workouts two years ago, Wadhawan played junior varsity during the 2019-20 school year. This season in 2020-21, Wadhawan moved up to varsity. While detractors will say girls appearing on football rosters don’t see much playing time, they are entirely missing the point. There has to be a starting point, and girls like Wadhawan and Blassingame are paving the way for it to be commonplace for every high school football team to have a girl on the roster. Down the road, perhaps two, three, four or more girls on a roster? And who knows, 10, 20 years from now? Would it be so inconceivable to have full girls teams for high school football?
If one were to go back 10 or 20 years ago, hardly anyone would have predicted the participation from girls playing football that we are seeing today. Furthermore, like Blassingame, Wadhawan isn’t just playing kicker either. After playing mostly wide receiver as a sophomore, this season Wadhawan added linebacker and defensive end to her repertoire. Wadhawan’s advice for younger girls interested in football? Just go for it.
“Honestly, just throw yourself into it and try to build yourself up. There is no other way to get into it. You don’t want to be apprehensive about it. I think that’s the main thing, just putting your 100% into it. There’s a lot of commitment, a year-round sport with offseason lifting. You got to be ready for it.”
Wadhawan was certainly ready for her opportunity to play football. Fremont Head Coach Rob Swartz holds her in the highest esteem.
“She always gives 100%, great attitude, takes multiple AP classes and also has a job. I think she took calculus as a 10th grader. Just a total winner.”
And she’s a humble winner to boot. Wadhawan mentioned not just one, or two, but seven teammates as inspiration to take up football. Allan Oseguera, Bryan Vasquez, Gus Arias, Shyan Rhovic-Olayres, Gabriel Cabrera, Ervin Hernandez and starting quarterback Bronson Stein all made a positive impact in Wadhawan’s journey to playing varsity football.
Obviously, that journey needed approval from mom and dad. Ajay Wadhawan and Charu Wadhawan were understandably nervous when Tanvi first came to them with the desire to play football, but now they couldn’t be prouder to see their daughter knocking down barriers.
“She’s been able to do something that not many other girls have attempted,” said her father, Ajay. “She has this streak in her that she breaks barriers. We absolutely support her attempts to achieve whatever she wants to do in terms of career, studies and sports.”
Perhaps Wadhawan ends up making a career out of football. Wadhawan mentioned Jennifer Welter, the first female NFL coach, who coached for the Arizona Cardinals in 2015 as inspiration. Currently, the 49ers have Katie Sowers on their coaching staff. Coach Wadhawan certainly has a nice ring to it.