Andrea Marsh is unlike any other female athlete in the United States. While other girls put on volleyball kneepads and shin guards for soccer, she puts on her helmet to step out onto the gridiron. Not only does she play football, but she’s not a kicker – this girl is out there day in and day out taking and delivering hits as a defensive back for the Panama Central Panthers. Ask Andrea about her favorite part of the game? It’s the same answer every time, “Hitting.”
A memorable game for everyone in Panama was when the team played Chautauqua Lake. They sported a 6’3” 235 pound running back, who was putting up some of the best numbers in the league. Though he put up big numbers against Panama, he had to get through Marsh to do it. She took him down on three separate plays during the game. Not bad for a player who’s only 5’6” and 140 pounds.
But don’t think that anyone believes that the fact that Marsh is a girl has any impact on her ability to make plays. She led the team this year in interceptions and finished the season with 55 tackles. “I have seen other females play football, but I always tell her she is a football player who happens to be female,” said her coach Chris Payne.
Andrea began playing football at age nine because she wanted to be like her older brother, Zach. When her parents agreed to sign her up, they added one caveat: she couldn’t cry or they would pull her. Nine years later, Andrea is still at it, so it’s safe to assume that she’s one tough chick. When she began her football career, Andrea noticed that the boys were growing at a faster rate than she was. She took to the yard with a cinder block tied around her waist, and hauled it along behind her in the hope that it would make her just as strong and fast. Over the years, Andrea has logged more time in the weight room than any of her teammates, but she doesn’t let it affect her in the classroom.
She is a straight-A student and is second in her class. She hopes to go to college to study genetics. Andrea was voted as team captain of the Panama High Panthers. “She leads by example and was never afraid of what people thought or said,” stated Coach Payne. “Other coaches tried to coerce her into their sport, saying that there would come a time when she could not play football anymore. She never wavered, and took that on as a challenge.”