Student Athlete Of The Week: Burrage Tackles Gender Norms

LOUISVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — It was spring of 2015 when senior defensive tackle Zykueria Burrage first stepped on the Louisville football field.

For most Powercat girls that would mean rooting on the team from the sidelines, but Burrage had another idea.

“See, most girls want to be cheerleaders but I wanted to be a football player,” Burrage said.

Burrage took away any hesitation, nerves, and parental judgement she was facing because she was determined to play the game and play it on her own terms.

“I tried to talk her out of it and then I told her to bring her mom and dad out here and I’d talk to them,” Louisville head football coach MC Miller said. “Then I tried to talk them out of it but she wanted to play. I said ‘well, you can’t discriminate’ so if a girl wanted to play we had to let her play.”

“First thing they said was kicker but, no,” Burrage said. “Because most girls play kicker and I didn’t see myself being a kicker.”

As for the guys on the field at first they were definitely in disbelief, but Burrage made it clear she had no issues getting physical.

“It was weird,” senior defensive tackle Derius Hopkins. “It was kind of surprising. I was amazed, like, a girl actually came out here to play. Someone’s actually tough enough to actually try and come out here.”

“Most people say ‘you’re a girl, you’re going to get hurt,’ but I just feel like boys get hurt too,” Burrage said. So I mean, what’s the difference? I’m a girl. They’re a boy. We all get hurt.”

Now she’s just  like any other wildcat in the locker room and Friday nights have quickly become her favorite time of the week.

“People are going to try and stop you from doing what you want to do but just don’t let anything stop you from following your dream. Just go do it,” Burrage said.

“Everyone tried to make it hard for her,” Miller said. “Running and doing a lot of extra work and everything but she took it pretty good. She went through all of that and everything. So she does a pretty good job hanging out here. She’s not what these guys are but other than that she’s a part of the team.”

Burrage will be slapping on her pads as she prepares for her team to head to New Hope this upcoming week.


Categories: High School Sports, Sports, Student Athlete of the Week

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