Vicksburg’s McGloster, PCA’s Whitehead are county’s first female football players since ‘14

Published 2:09 pm Thursday, September 16, 2021

Warren County’s football fields have gotten a feminine touch this fall.

Two girls — Vicksburg High’s Trinity McGloster and Porter’s Chapel Academy’s Madelyn Whitehead — have not only joined their school’s teams, but played and contributed to victories. They are the first girls to play in a varsity football game for a Warren County high school since Caroline Williams kicked for Vicksburg High in 2014. The last girl to play football before that was Vicksburg kicker Brandi Head in 2002.

McGloster is a kicker for Vicksburg, and Whitehead plays on the offensive and defensive line for PCA. Both are freshmen.

“Ever since I was little, me and my brother used to throw the football and run and stuff like that. He’s never had anybody to throw it with, so he was part of me playing,” Whitehead said. “It’s always been my passion. I really don’t like any other sports besides football. It’s just something I like to do.”

Whitehead is in her third year with PCA’s program, but McGloster just joined Vicksburg’s team last week.
Vicksburg coach Todd McDaniel said the team has struggled to find an accurate placekicker. That forced the Gators to go for two-point conversions after every touchdown, and they were only 1-for-3 in the first two games.

“None of the (soccer) guys would come out, so I just said to Coach (Shaun) Archer and Coach (Christopher) Lacey during our team meeting that you’ve got to find us a kicker,” McDaniel said. “They said, ‘What about a girl?’ I said, ‘I don’t care what she is, I just need a kicker.’”

Lacey, who used to coach Vicksburg’s girls’ soccer team, then approached McGloster and she was open to the idea of trying football. She suited up last week and made 1 of 3 PAT attempts in a 45-0 win over Canton. In her first home game Friday, she went 3-for-5 as the Gators beat Forest Hill 46-0. Each successful PAT brought a roar from the crowd.

“Playing football is just trying something new to get myself out there, instead of playing the same sports over and over again. And then being the only girl is something good,” McGloster said.

McGloster scored 15 goals for VHS’ soccer team last season, but said she learned quickly that kicking a football through the uprights is not the same as kicking a soccer ball into the net.

The two sports require slightly different mechanics, and the balls react differently to contact. Kicking in a football helmet and pads is also far different than kicking with the minimal equipment soccer players wear.

“It’s so much different than kicking a soccer ball. A soccer ball is easier to kick, because it’s something I’m used to. Kicking a football is different mechanics and knowing how to switch it up a bit,” she said. “In soccer all you have on is shinguards and cleats. And then transitioning to football with the helmet, shoulder pads and everything, you have to get used to it.”

So far, McGloster has only attempted short PATs. McDaniel said he’ll let her try field goals as her accuracy, range and confidence improve.

“No field goals just yet, but we’ll eventually get there. I can see field goals in her future,” McDaniel said. “If you want to be good at it, you can be good at it. She’s going to be a good kicker.”

McGloster added that she’d like to one day make a tackle. That’s something Whitehead has already done. The freshman is a starter on both the offensive and defensive lines for PCA’s junior high team. She was on the field for every snap in the junior high season opener, and has two tackles in two varsity games this season.

PCA coach Blake Purvis said Whitehead has never shied away from contact and going up against the boys.

“We had a senior hit her one day in a drill and they asked if she was OK. She said, ‘I’m playing football! Get off me!’” Purvis said. “She doesn’t want to be treated any different. She goes through everything and handles it as well as anybody we have. She always has a good attitude and works hard.”

Whitehead joined PCA’s team as a seventh-grader. She wanted to play a year earlier, but wasn’t allowed to.

“I wanted to play football in sixth grade, but my old headmaster told me I couldn’t. We went through MAIS, and in seventh grade I missed the first game and summer practice. My mom has always encouraged me to play,” Whitehead said. “I’m just happy to play, and so glad that I can play. Most girls don’t have an opportunity to play.”

The way things are shaping up, both girls will have all the opportunity they want. McDaniel is hopeful he’s found a kicker for the next four years, and with her growing experience Whitehead could be a key contributor on PCA’s line for a long time to come.

“She has no doubt held her own. Obviously, this is her third year with us. She’s probably missed fewer workouts and practices than anybody on our team,” Purvis said. “She’s here when the doors open and you’re running her out when the doors close. She’s earned everything she’s gotten, and the guys see that. She’s earned their respect, and they treat her like one of their teammates and that’s what she wants.”

McGloster said she plans to stick with football, in addition to her other sports of softball and soccer.

“I’m going to stick with it. I like it so much,” McGloster said. “I see myself staying with it because I enjoy doing it, and now that I see that I can I really see myself staying with it.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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