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Football: It's not just for the boys

She plays a lot of instruments. She enjoys soccer. She dabbled in cheerleading.

And Wednesday marked one of her first days in pads.

Go ahead, boys — hit Stephanie Romine as hard as you can.

She just wants everyone to keep one thought in mind . . .

“I’m not gonna quit.”

She’s a 12-year-old sixth-grader from Palmetto spending this spring working out with the Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School middle-school football team.

Her brown hair pulled back so it fits under a helmet, Romine wore a green mesh jersey and white football pants during a warm Wednesday evening at Turner Fields.

She wants to play because she enjoys the game. And she wants to play because she can.

“I want to prove to everybody, especially the guys here, that I can play,” Romine said. “Not just me, but any girl who wants to play a guy’s sport.”

Romine is about more than pigskin — she’s a budding musician who can play the piano, bass, clarinet, flute, drums and violin.

She’s tried soccer, gymnastics and cheerleading — none of which took.

So there she was Wednesday, hours after being on the receiving end of her first hit.

“I didn’t hurt as much as I thought,” Romine said. “I thought it was going to be intense.”

This isn’t a fly-by-night experiment. Romine plays football with her older brothers and spends recess period at Saint Stephen’s doing the same thing with her classmates.

When she told her friends about going out for the team, they laughed it off.

Then they caught a glimpse of her in pads.

“They were like, ‘You play football?’ ” Romine said.

“Did you just expect me to just say I was going to play? Most people didn’t think I was going to do it.”

While most girls her age are mapping out their summer vacations and counting the days until the school year ends, Romine is spending her spring lining up at outside linebacker and wide receiver and gulping down water from a spigot.Most importantly, she’s having fun.

“I promised myself I’d at least go through one season. If I do like it, I’m going to do it next season,” Romine said. “But I’m pretty sure I’m gonna do it.”

No matter how hard she gets hit.

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