A year ago, Azia Isaac became the first and only girl to play on the Southeastern High School football team, an accomplishment she is most proud of.
The 16-year-old junior is dedicated to the sport, which can be seen when she plays. Her efforts have been noticed, as the Detroit News mentioned Isaac in an article when she made seven tackles in a single game. “She is not afraid to mix it up in practice or game,” said Mansfield Dinkins III, Southeastern’s offense and defense line coach. “She is a hard hitter and good tackler.”
Isaac plays various positions, including linebacker, safety and corner.
“She is one of the toughest young ladies I’ve met,” Dinkins said. “She has the respect of her teammates, both as a lady first and student athlete second.”
Isaac’s love of football started at a very young age.
“It was a passion of mine since I was 7 years old,” she said.
It started as a hobby until she decided that she wanted to play in high school, a decision she made in her sophomore year. Isaac isn't singled out because she's a girl but gets the same coaching and playing opportunities as the other players.
“I feel normal being on the team,” Isaac said. “I get the same treatment as everyone else.”.
Coach Dinkins said Isaac is expected to do what the other players do in practice and preparation, and she does it well.
She does have a few pros and cons about being the only girl on the team. A pro for her are the bonds and relationships she's made with her teammates. Everyone on the football team is close-knit and care for one another like family.
She also said she feels good about proving everyone wrong about playing on the all-male team.
Coach Dinkins said she is a great student on and off the field.
“She’s a great student in the classroom and on the field,” he said. “She is very knowledgeable about the game. I wish I could have an entire team full of Azia’s.”
Although there are pros, there are also cons. There were alot of negative things people said about her, but she doesn’t let it affect her. Isaac says she is very capable of playing and nothing can stop her.
Another con for her is that people from other teams underestimate her abilities. “They think that just because I'm a girl they think I can't play,” she said. “I like when they underestimate me because they are not expecting me to play as hard as they play.”
However, that doesn’t often affect her because of the support she gets from her friends and family. Isaac says she is motivated by them and that keeps her going.
The team has made it to the state playoffs and she is happy.
“All of our efforts and hard work are showing and we are being recognized for it,” said Isaac.