Gracie Swierczynski: Playing like a girl


Dione Swierczynski

Gracie Swierczynski (97) khelt down surrounded by her teammates and opponents before beginning the next play.

Sam Meyers, Freelance Writer

As the players jog to huddle around the coaches for an end of practice talk, junior Gracie Swierczynski reveals her long hair hidden in her helmet in an attempt to cool off. Swierczynski stands in the spotlight of a crowd of boys in the huddle before calling it out for the end of practice. Following her many experiences as being a girl playing football, Swierczynski wants to be treated like every other player and views herself as one of them.

Not only is Swierczynski the only girl on the team, she is also one of the smallest. Some might think that this is a disadvantage, but Gracie and her coaches think otherwise. Coach Mark Molinari expresses his feelings about what it’s like coaching a girl and how he makes sure that Gracie feels a part of the team.

“This is probably the fifth or sixth girl I’ve coached in 22 years of coaching football. I’ve been through this experience before, but Gracie is different than all the other girls I’ve coached. Gracie really blends in and other than changing outside of our locker room, she is pretty much treated like all the other guys, and that’s how she wants it,” Molinari said.

You would think that games are what most players look forward to because it’s Friday night, you’re surrounded by big spotlights and cheering fans with that exciting football environment everyone can’t wait for. Unlike the other players, Swierczynski looks forward to practicing with her team most of all.

“My favorite part about being on the football team would probably be the practices and the team energy during games. Sometimes even the practices end up being more fun than the games I think, but I don’t really know why that’s just how I feel. Maybe because it’s just not a nervous or stressful environment during practices, but then during the games when someone makes a good play, or someone gets lit up, it’s always high energy, and it’s lots of fun,” Swierczynski said.

Coach Molinari has worked to build a football program that allows players with elite talent to be pushed to the limit just like Swierczynski.

“I think when we talk about our football program, we talk about our culture, and our culture is words about our team, and we say to be in football you have to be an elite person because it’s very painful, and it takes up a lot of time. If you’re willing to go through that you are going to be elite; you know your grades matter, and the type of person you are is important, so we don’t look at Gracie as being a girl on our team, we just look at another elite football player. That is the way that she wants to be treated and we love having her on the team,” Molinari said.

Swierczynski knows what she has to do in order to push herself to be the best player she can be. Along with her coaches her biggest supporters are her parents.

“I definitely would say my parents have pushed me to be a better player always because they are always coming to my games and supporting me. I really appreciate all that they have done for me and that effort I see them putting in to come to my games even though they aren’t required to. It’s hard though because I try not to let them down when they come,” she said.

She also appreciates her coaches.

“I would also have to say my coaches to push me and also the other players to do our best. Also my D-line coach who pushes me to always remember the fundamentals,” Swierczynski said.

Not only does Swierczynski’s parents have her back, but her teammates also look after her on and off the field.

“At games I probably feel most comfortable just because I know if anything happened or if the other teams ever say anything to me, my teammates always have my back. I’m super grateful for that actually because it’s helped me before,” Swierczynski said.

Swierczynski is looking forward to playing next year during her senior season.