The star running back dodges opposing defensive linemen in a sprint to
the end zone while the rest of the team stands ready for a reception.
Meanwhile, the coach barks orders at players as cheerleaders entertain
the thunderous crowd with spirit kicks and jumps.
It’s a scene all too common for a fall Friday night at any high school stadium in America.
But if you look a little closer, you’ll notice they’re not your everyday football players and cheerleaders.
Wellman-Union’s athletes switch sides of the field every Tuesday night
during Homecoming week for Powder Puff Football, a mock game in which
sophomore and junior girls don jerseys and grab a pigskin to compete
against a team of their freshman and senior counterparts. From the
sidelines, a group of unusually-masculine cheerleaders leads dances and
chants to keep them fighting.
"The kids think it’s a lot of fun,” said faculty sponsor Shauna Youngblood. "It pumps them up for Homecoming.”
The Wildcats sign up in advance for the roles they wish to perform at
the game, including coaches and referees. And as with procedures for
Friday’s traditional Homecoming coronation, the study body votes on a
Powder Puff Queen and King. This year, the crowd roared as Queen Kirk
"Bonnie Parker” Martin, a senior, cheerfully accepted her crown from
junior "Mr.” Rosa Olivas.
Meanwhile before the game, the Powder Puff ‘Cats learned their moves and
practiced with help from their classmates who more-traditionally wore
jerseys and helmets. Because of their busy schedules with classes,
homework and other sports, they were only able to squeeze in a single
practice session before the game Tuesday.
"We only had one practice,” said sophomore Lexi Olivas. "It was hard work.”
Trying out different styles of play gave them an appreciation of the
game that they had previously only been able to speculate about while
cheering from the sidelines.
"I never really understood football, but when the boys coached us it
made a lot of sense,” said sophomore Breck Faught. "It helps us as real
cheerleaders because we understand the game better.”
Freshman Sierra Wheatley agreed, "The plays are way harder than they look.”
The battle on the field may be tough, but some of the ‘Cats have learned
that the real athletic challenges are just away from it. The
football-players-turned-cheerleaders found out the hard way that their
job involves much more than just motivating the guys.
"We cheer for them,” said freshman Edward Chavez. "It’s hard.”
"It’s embarrassing,” added freshman Luis Jaramillo.
And while accustomed to the comfort of loose-fitting jerseys, having to
adjust to skimpy cheerleading uniforms isn’t much fun, either.
"The suits are kind of tight,” said freshman Steve Olivas.
The Wildcats formed the idea for Powder Puff Football about three years
ago, after they learned of other West Texas small schools that played
the nontraditional sport. Its success will likely ensure that it keeps
growing every Homecoming week, according to players and fans.
"It’s a tradition, but it’s a new tradition,” Youngblood said.