Iowa running back turning heads, heading into HER freshman year

 

WATERLOO, Iowa-- It's almost football season, and one Iowa player is already generating a lot of buzz.

There are 52 players on Waterloo's Columbus High Football team, but #32, incoming freshman, stands out.

She is going to be a running back.

"Yeah, I get tackled," Janiya LaBeaux, 14, said blankly. "But I just get up and keep playing."

LaBeaux is the first female football player ever at the school. She's just 5 foot 1 inch, but says she doesn't let that get in her way.

She's been playing football pretty much her whole life. She was on a team with all boys in middle school, too.

The number of girls who play football has been steadily climbing over the past 10 years, but most are kickers, not running backs like Janiya.

"My four uncles, when I was a kid, used to play with me," LaBeaux recalls. "And I was just interested and want to be with them. We play together, hit hard, and play our best."

More than one million students play football, making it the most popular high school sport. Although 25,000 girls play at the youth level, only 2,000 continue to play in high school.