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Girl, 12, Plays Her Way Into National All-Star Football Game
Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Women are proving time and time again that they can not only hang with the guys in sports, but in some cases outplay them.

For example, Sam Gordon made waves as a 9-year-old football player snatching everyone’s ankles on the field before starring in the 2019 NFL 100 Super Bowl commercial. Mo’ne Davis and Maddy Freking became superstars in the Little League World Series for their groundbreaking skills. And this 15-year-old girl benching 355 pounds with ease is probably fielding calls from Nick Saban to play offensive lineman for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Now, we may have a new female star on the gridiron.

Meet Destiny Keyes. The 12-year-old from Waynesboro, Virginia, is already an absolute beast of a football player. Despite picking up the sport just four years ago after watching her brother play, Keyes has starred for her local August County Quarterback Club team.

Keyes, who is a sixth grader at Kate Collins Middle School, has already played in All-Star games in Virginia and North Carolina. She’s also been invited to the Diamond Youth All-American Bowl in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which recruits more than 500 youth players from across the country from third grade to ninth grade student-athletes and will be played Dec. 29 and Dec. 30.

Standing 5-foot-3 and 130 pounds, Keyes has played numerous positions on the defensive and offensive lines like defensive end, tackle, guard and center. If her quote about that first time she ever did hitting drills is any indication, Keyes could have a bright future playing football.

“The first dude I went up against,” Destiny told The News Leader. “I flattened him.”

Girls playing youth football is nothing new. According to USA Football, an estimated 25,000 are playing tackle football at the youth level in the United States. That’s one percent of the 2.5 million total youth football players there are.

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Keyes, for instance, isn’t even the only girl on her team. But ask Joe Brent, her head coach in juniors, and he’ll tell you she’s a different breed than any other girl he’s seen play.

“Destiny is a player that will give you anything and everything,” he told The News Leader. “She wouldn’t say no. She wouldn’t back down.”

Keyes doesn’t plan to stop flattening dudes on the football field. She told her dad, Billy Keyes, she wants to play high school football when the time comes. As for college football? Well, it’s been done before.

In 2018, Toni Harris became the first non-specialist female football player to receive a full college football scholarship. The Central Methodist University (NAIA) safety became the second woman to ever play football on scholarship.

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Who knows, maybe Keyes will break ground and become the first non-specialist woman to play for an NCAA FBS team. Maybe it’s as a running back scoring touchdowns. Maybe it’s as a linebacker trucking guys. Maybe it’s sacking quarterbacks as a star defensive line-woman.

Destiny, after all, is her name.

READ MORE: The Girl From the NFL 100 Super Bowl Ad? She Might Be Its Brightest Star

Patrick Pinak About the author:
Patrick has spent parts of the last four years covering University of Florida athletics and spent two seasons with Major League Baseball. He's a baseball junkie who spends his days defending Derek Jeter and the Miami Marlins. A recent Gator grad, Patrick currently resides in Gainesville, Florida.
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