NORTH ADAMS -- A father spending time with his daughter in the yard is not uncommon. A father spending time with his daughter in the yard teaching her sports is not uncommon. A father spending time with his daughter in the yard teaching her proper football blocking form, now that's unique.
"Hours and hours," Michaela Malloy said.
The 14-year-old Adams native is making the leap this fall from youth football to the high school game. She's a freshman at McCann Tech and will likely land on the junior varsity team as a lineman.
"I just like the contact sports," she said before Wednesday morning's practice. "I'm really not a girly-girl."
This is her fourth season on the male-dominated gridiron. She played a year of junior and two years of senior ball with the Adams youth leagues.
Her biggest challenge in the early going with the Hornets is retooling her footwork. The offensive lineman was taught a different technique than the McCann coaches want from their lineman.
On Day One of practice, senior Gustavo Montoya spent time with Malloy helping her make the transition.
"Coach, he has certain stances we want to be in," he said. "She didn't really know the stances yet because she's coming up from the youth leagues, so I'd correct her on what she's doing wrong and let her know that's how you do it."
Responses like Montoya's have been common for Malloy since she first put the pads on, with one exception.
"I did [receive criticism] my first year in the juniors, but it didn't really bother me," she said.
After the initial shock of having a girl in the nearly all-male sport, the Hornets have opened up, Montoya said. It's amazing how skill can wipe away gender lines.
"She's better than some kids, and we kind of realized she can do the job," Montoya said. "I think she'll do really good on the team."
Second year junior varsity coach Travis Bolte coached against Malloy last year in the youth league. He's seen her play in games and described her as a "very physical girl." That shouldn't come as a surprise when you learn her attitude is to dish out more injuries than receive them, although she hates tackling.
Bolte said he has no plans of moving her off the offensive line.
"She was talking more left tackle and left guard," he said. "She was comfortable there last year, and that's where I'm going to try to put her this year."
This is his second experience coaching a girl in football, but the first at the high school level. The other was about six years ago in the youth leagues.
"The youth level, they're just getting into it, and they're just getting the fundamentals down," he said. "Where high school level, it's a lot harder. It's a little more physical, but I think she'll be all right. I have a lot of faith in her."
While she's received almost nothing but positive feedback since stepping onto the field, it was the time before that first step that proved daunting. Her father, Joe, was onboard with her wanting to play, but her mother, Brenda, wasn't.
Malloy's early attempts to sway her mom's opinion to play juniors went unsuccessful, and Malloy wasn't remotely happy about the decision.
"Oh I didn't talk to her for a couple days," she recalled.
Malloy finally broke her mom, and when the time came to convince her about high school football, it was much easier.
"She just let me go," Malloy said. "She was like ‘well, I'm never going to get my ballerina.' "
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