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Field goal(s)

Freshman Maggie Shafer is breaking barriers one tackle at at time

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Field goal(s)

Shafer watching half of her team practice while she waits on the sidelines.

Shafer watching half of her team practice while she waits on the sidelines.

Emily Whitcomb

Shafer watching half of her team practice while she waits on the sidelines.

Emily Whitcomb

Emily Whitcomb

Shafer watching half of her team practice while she waits on the sidelines.

Emily Whitcomb, Business Manager

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“I’m gonna play football. I’m not going to be a kicker,” freshman Maggie Shafer said. Those words were fighting words, and they definitely were not empty.

Shafer is Noblesville’s first female wide receiver. She moved to Noblesville from Carmel in the summer of 2018, and started playing that July. Originally she was a lineman, but switched to wide receiver during her freshman year.

From the beginning, Shafer faced skepticism.

“I walked in, and I was so ready. I had built up so many walls, and I was so ready for [the coaches] to say, ‘No you cannot play,’” Shafer said.

What she did not expect was what the coach was actually going to say.

“I walked in and he was like, ‘I’m not gonna tell you no.’ That was the first thing that he said to me and my mom. ‘But I’m not gonna tell you that this is a good idea,’” Shafer said.

Shafer’s can-do attitude has been noticed by Chase Alsup, who plays strong safety on the freshman team.

 “You cannot talk her out of doing something. If she wants to go in she will ask to go in on numerous [occasions],” Alsup said. “Until she can’t do it [any]more. She’s willing to push herself in order to get better.”

Shafer was ready for the challenges, both physically and those she would face with other players.

“It’s a lot harder to be out there, but you get used to it after a while. I have so many bumps and bruises, [and] awkward tan lines from it,” Schafer said. “One of [Westfield’s] players wouldn’t play me hard because I was a girl.”

And yet through the skepticism of the players and coaches, she won’t let anything stop her.

“I did get a holding call last game and I was like ‘I’m gonna put you on the ground, no matter what,’” Shafer said, regarding her encounter with Westfield.

All great players need an inspiration, and though Shafer has many, her mother has been her inspiration and supporter through her whole life, not just with football.

“She’s always powering through. Even in my childhood—I didn’t really have the best childhood— she just powered through it, tried to keep us happy most of the time. She was selfless,” Shafer said.

Since day one, people have been surprised to learn that this young girl plays not volleyball, not soccer, but football.  And they have no qualms about asking any questions they can think of.

“People are always curious, always asking the weirdest questions sometimes,” Shafer said. “I get questions about my sexuality, I’ll get questions about my mental state. It’s definitely strange.”

The transition into playing a male-dominated sport has not only been difficult for Shafer, but for the team as well.

“They [thought I was] a manager and so they were like, okay the other girls are here, and we were like ‘I’m a football player.’ I don’t think that they expected me to be there, I think it was just weird for the coaches and everyone,” Shafer said.

Alsup, however, had no problem welcoming Shafer to the team.

“It was me that introduced myself because no one would really talk to her on the football team. She came in and everyone was puzzled [and] shocked,” Alsup said.

Going into it, Shafer knew it was going to be a rough transition. She knew she’d be in a locker room by herself. She knew of the back pain that awaited her, of the skepticism and criticism that she would face not only from other people but from herself. And yet she hasn’t let any of that stop her.

Growing up, Shafer never had it easy. She was bullied and was self-conscious for a long time about her weight.  Football has been a huge factor in changing that by not only helping her become healthier, but boosting her confidence.

“That makes me feel so confident in myself. Weight doesn’t matter, weight should matter in a person, it should always be about the personality. That was a huge turning point for me,” Shafer said.

Shafer’s ambition does not end in the endzone in Noblesville. Shafer aspires to hit the college football field.

“I feel like I do try to work harder than a lot of other people, and being a girl especially, you have to work harder for people to see you,” Shafer said. “No ones gonna be like, ‘Oh hey this person can play.’ That’s not people’s first reaction.”

In the past, most girls who made it on their school’s football team only got as far as being a kicker. And although that’s an achievement in its own right, many girls could make it even further, as Shafer did.

“Never lose hope. You never give up and if you do end up playing,” Shafer said, “Just leave it all on the field. Don’t hold on to negative things.”

Shafer as she looks on at the practice.

Emily Whitcomb
Shafer takes a water break with some of her teammates.

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Field goal(s)