SLO County high school football player says she’s ready to start ‘playing with the guys’

·3 min read
Trevor Neer

Coast Union High School sophomore Emily Reed is out for Bronco football “not only for myself,” she explained, “but for all the other girls out there who think they can’t do it or are nervous about playing with the guys.”

Reed stands 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds. Her coaches would like her to play on the front line — which means she will be blocking, ramming forward and basically banging heads with aggressive opponents.

Is she a bit nervous as the season approaches?

“Yes, doing something different terrifies me,” she acknowledged, “but I am setting an example for all those other girls and that’s what makes it worth it.”

Reed said she has always “loved going to football games.”

She got the desire to put on a helmet and pads and play football with the Broncos after playing powderpuff football last year at Coast Union, based in Cambria on the North Coast of San Luis Obispo County.

Reed’s older sister played sports. “But it wasn’t so much being inspired by my sister as it was just being a super energetic kid who loves sports,” she said.

When Reed joined the Coach Union football team, “I reached out to two of my friends and asked what their first reaction was,” she recalled. “My friend Adair’s first thought was that it was awesome because he saw I was really excited and passionate about playing.”

A second friend, Alex, “saw me as a football player and not a girl football player,” she explained via email. “That’s what I want the future to look like.”

Reed’s coaches have confidence in her football playing abilities.

“Emily is practicing with the lineman and working mostly at tackle and tight end,” Coast Union head coach Andrew Crosby explained. “She’s doing great. She is really motivated to make sure she knows all of the plays and has proper technique.”

Offensive coordinator Charlie Casale called Reed “a great team player.”

“I am impressed with her in the weight room,” he said. “We are not in full pads yet but I feel she can hold her own with the boys.”

Casale added that Reed is “a pioneer, and in the future I feel there will be girls tackle high school football teams. She would make a great girls football coach in the future.”

Reed’s parents were initially opposed to her going out for tackle football with the Bronco team.

“It took all school year (last year) to convince them to even let me do spring football,” she said.

First she “got the okay” from the coaches, and Bronco athletic trainer Megan Swanland.

Then Reed’s mother spoke with the coaches and trainer.

“In the end, my mom saw how much I loved it and might let me do more than one year,” Reed said.

When asked if she has a football hero, Reed mentions Becca Longo, the first woman to earn a college football scholarship to an NCAA Division II school – Adams State University in Arizona.

Longo was strictly a kicker, while Reed will be in the trenches blocking and tackling.

After high school, Reed hopes to attend Harvard University or New York University and play “three sports all four years.”

She’s interested in pursuing criminal law and psychology.

“I want to study these two subjects because I want to help people in the future and feel this is the best way to do so,” she explained.

Reed officially takes the field as a high school football player on Thursday, Sept. 1, when the Broncos open the home season against Laguna Blanca at 5 p.m.

The game will be broadcast on BOB FM (105.3) and streams on