Proud of Mina Johnson

Published 9:17 am Saturday, October 15, 2011

The story of Mina Johnson, the young lady who is making her mark on the junior varsity football squad at Southampton Academy, has gone viral.

Her story, which was first reported by The Tidewater News on Oct. 9, has appeared on newspaper websites from as far away as San Francisco and San Antonio as well as the home pages of both Yahoo and AOL.

What has piqued national interest in Mina’s story, we suppose, is not that it is one of a girl who wants to play football. The story of a girl attempting to break gender barriers and participate in a traditionally male-dominated, full-contact sport has been told countless times already.

What has gained people’s attention is the fact that opponents have threatened not to compete if she were to step on the field of play. And, unfortunately, we suspect that for those who live outside of Western Tidewater, that is the extent of the story that they will ever know.

What should be told, however, is a much better story than just that of another school’s refusal to compete against a girl. What should be told is how she was welcomed to participate on the football team at Southampton Academy with little or no controversy.

What should be told is that Mina chose to sit out against Northeast Academy, rather than cost her teammates an opportunity to play that game. What should be told is how her coaches and teammates have embraced her, not as a girl who is playing football but as a member of the team who works hard, plays hard, and quite frankly, is a pretty good football player regardless of gender.

And what we think should definitely be told is that Mina, a bright and well-spoken ambassador for her family, school and community, is a shining example to all young people that the world doesn’t get to define what dreams you are entitled to dream and which dreams you are entitled to pursue.

We are proud to tell the story of Mina Johnson. But we are much prouder of her and her school for giving us all such a wonderful story to tell.