Vidalia 10-year old girl loves playing football with the boys

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, October 19, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Alyssa Edens plays for the United Mississippi Bank Tigers of the Miss-Lou Youth Football League. Edens, above, plays football with her brother Dylan Lowery outside of their home on Eleanor Street in Vidalia Tuesday afternoon.

VIDALIA — Alyssa Edens is your normal 10-year-old girl. She’s obsessed with Elvis and loves new toys, chicken strips and her cat. But Edens does have one hobby that sets her apart from all of her pre-teen peers, she enjoys cracking a few skulls on the football field.

Edens is a safety and wide receiver for the United Mississippi Bank Tigers of the Miss-Lou Youth Football League, and she said her reason for playing football this season was simple.

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Alyssa Edens plays for the United Mississippi Bank Tigers of the Miss-Lou Youth Football League.

“I decided if boys could do it, girls could do it too,” she said.

This is Edens’ first season in organized football, but she has spent half her life fighting over the pigskin in the yard with her older brothers Dylan and Trey Lowery.

Edens said she and her brothers have been playing football together for approximately 5 years, and usually they just go outside and throw the ball around.

“Sometimes I play games with some friends down the street too,” Edens said.

Edens said she started watching football when she was approximately two years old, and she is a big fan of the LSU Tigers.

She said at first the boys in the league teased her, but it did not take long for them to realize she deserved respect.

“You sometimes feel left out because nobody appreciates you at first, but they learn to,” she said.

“I ran over one boy. And he went around me the next time.”

Edens’ mother, April Lowery, said she was worried her daughter would have trouble gaining respect from the boys.

“At first I was scared that the boys wouldn’t accept her,” April said. “At first they were putting her down, but once they played against her they saw that she wasn’t just some girl.”

April recalled one instance when Edens proved she could handle herself on the field.

At the first practice of the season, one of the boys on the team was giving Edens a hard time as the two sides were lining up to run a play, but Edens was the one that was able to walk the walk once the play started.

“She asked him, ‘are you ready?’” April said. “He laughed, and then she put him on his butt. She’s mean as a rattlesnake.”

Edens’ toughness comes from playing with her brothers, and they said they did not take it easy on her when touch games turned into tackle.

Dylan said sometimes he worries about his little sister getting hurt, but Trey said he is not worried at all because they toughened her up.

Dylan, 11, and Trey, 13, said they are impressed with how well their sister handles herself on the field.

“What makes her good is she wants to go out and play,” Trey said.

Edens said she hopes to continue playing in the future, and she said it is possible she might want to try to play at Vidalia High School when she gets older. She is working on becoming a place kicker and was disappointed when she found out that the 10-year-old team did not kick field goals, she said.

Dylan said he would love the opportunity to play high school football with his sister.

“It would be awesome,” he said.

Edens is also an inspiration to her younger sister Ginney Lowery, 8. Ginney is a cheerleader, but said she wants to play football too.

“(Edens) is the toughest one on the team, and (one day) I want to be the strongest on the team and tackle boys,” Ginney said.

Edens, who also plays softball and is a straight A/B student at Vidalia Upper Elementary, has also had to overcome medical issues to accomplish what she has so far.

“She’s overcome a lot,” April said. “She has Celiac disease and ADD/ADHD.”

Celiac disease damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents the body from absorbing vital nutrients in foods.

One of the symptoms is a tendency to bruise easily, and the family was also forced to change its diet.

“We had to change the way we cook,” April said. “Everybody changed, because it wasn’t fair for me to have to cook one meal for her and another for everybody else. But we’ve adapted well, and we deal with it.”

April said the disease does not affect Edens’ ability to play football, however, and she hopes her daughter will keep playing as long as she enjoys the game.

“I’m all for it,” she said. “If they want to play any sport I’m for it. I’d rather them be playing ball than on the street getting in trouble. She can do whatever she wants as long as she’s happy playing.”

The UMB Tigers, who happen to be coached by the only female coach in the league, Charlotte Beard, are currently undefeated this season and will play their final regular season game Saturday.