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Gridiron girls starts second season
S-Georgia plays football mug
Georgia Smith

Hot summer days start early for Georgia Smith and the entire Tigers football team.

Georgia is a rising eighth grader who is about to enter her second season of football for Dawson County.

This is not the usual girl who wants to come out and be a place kicker or thinks she has an arm good enough to play quarterback.

The 13-year-old is a linebacker.

"I think it says a lot about her character and the position she plays, it's a kind of dirty, work position," said offensive line coach Kevin Grigsby. "For her to play those tough positions, like linebacker on defense and offensive line on offense, it shows a lot about her."

Georgia, however, is far from intimidating off the field.

She says her love of football began in a sixth grade physical education class.

"There was like one guy and I was the only one who could catch him. I was like, ‘Man, this is really fun,'" Georgia said.

When she found out there was even an option for girls to play, she knew that's what she wanted to do.

"The more I started playing, the more I think God started pushing me towards it. So I was just like, ‘OK, if this is what God wants me to do, I will go after it,'" she said.

Her parents are on board, but realize it's unusual.

"At first I was a little nervous, but she's good. She's really good," said her mom, Lori.

"I tried to talk her into softball," said Georgia's dad, Russell.

Coaches speak highly of her work ethic and desire to be treated like any of the other athletes on the field.

"We are really excited to have Georgia. She comes out, she works hard every day. In my opinion she is extremely brave to be one young lady out here with 100 plus boys, grades 8-12," Grigsby said. "She plays hard and she doesn't expect anybody, she doesn't want anybody, to take it easy on her."

Grigsby believes she will see playing time this year with the eighth grade team, but the question naturally arises, "What about next year?"
Georgia doesn't think twice about it when you ask her how far she wants to go with football: "I am hoping to make it pro."

Despite the considerable size advantage of the other high school athletes, Georgia says fear is never a factor.

She says the guys on the team have been good to her.

"It's a little awkward," she said. "I love them anyway."

Grigsby said Georgia has her own locker room.

Her girlfriends not only support her, but have found a particular value in the image that goes with her choice of sport.

"They are like, ‘Hey if I need any protecting?' And I'm like, ‘I gotcha,'" she said. "A lot of the girls are like scared of me though and that's not a bad thing."

Regardless of whether she continues past this year, the training and experience will benefit her down the road.

"It has taught her to make better choices with nutrition and things like that," said Lori Smith.

"With the speed and the conditioning, I don't know if you saw the kids lined up, it's making them better athletes. I coach basketball and soccer and I am telling these kids now that we are going to be doing this same stuff during basketball season because it teaches a good, strong base. That goes for any sport that you play. I think it's good for her," Grigsby said.

This will be the first year that Georgia's younger brother has played football as well. He is beginning at the park and rec level as he is entering fifth grade.

"I think it kind of inspired him to start playing because this will be his first year. I think he was like if she can do it I can do it," said Lori Smith.

Grigsby added: "We are blessed to have her out here and we appreciate her hard work. She's been here every day and she continues to work hard and get better."