Norah Macaulay, wearing a black hooded jacket and on crutches, looked cold.
The 13-year-old defensive end, who will not play this weekend for the Kamloops Broncos against Kelowna Junior Sun Green in the junior bantam Southern Interior Football Conference championship game, was not required to be at chilly Hillside Stadium for practise on Wednesday night.
“If they’re out here practising in the cold, there is no reason why I shouldn’t be out here in the cold with them,” Macaulay said.
The Broncos (7-0) will play host to Sun Green (6-1) in the title tilt on Sunday, with kickoff slated for noon at Hillside Stadium. The winner will advance to the B.C. championship tournament next Saturday in Kamloops.
Macaulay is the only girl on the 31-player roster and her spirit broke briefly last Sunday in the hospital while her teammates were busy throttling Kelowna Junior Sun Blue 76-44.
She was injured early in the semifinal contest and later diagnosed with torn tissue in her foot and a badly sprained ankle.
“I was sitting in the ER listening for updates on how the game was going and I was in tears and my dad goes, ‘Oh, does it really hurt that bad?’” Macaulay said.
“I’m like, ‘No, I’m getting over the pain. It just sucks that I’m probably out for provincials.’”
Bond-forming acceptance has boosted Macaulay’s confidence.
“There is definitely a judgment-free perspective,” Macaulay said. “Basically, for my whole life, I’ve always hung out with guys.
“I almost feel it would be weird for me if it was a team of girls.”
She was scared to tackle in her first game a few months ago, her only gridiron experience to that point of the flag-football variety, but listened to encouragement from teammates and coaches.
“In the jamboree, our first big tournament, near the end, when the other team had almost gotten into the end zone, I made two hits to stop it and caused a turnover,” she said.
“It’s very satisfying, especially because I’m a girl.”
Macaulay has been a quick study in learning to handle the haters.
“My parents have told me they heard, ‘Oh, he got tackled by a girl!’” Macaulay said. “I just respond with, ‘Well, yeah. Why wouldn’t he?’
“It’s great knowing some people are so confident guys are stronger than girls and then being able to take them down.”
Macaulay fearlessly forecasted a 60-40 victory over Sun Green before breaking news that may scare opponents if her prediction is accurate: The crutches will likely be turfed this week.
She plans to help her football family at provincials.
“At school, there is always going to be people who genuinely just don’t care about you and people who are fake and rude, but this group of people, since you spend so much time with them, has gotten really close and I trust all of them,” Macaulay said.
“They’re all like my brothers now.”