Cohen proving women can play football, too

Frisco Independence junior making mark as JV’s sure-footed kicker

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

Two years ago Brooke Cohen was told girls couldn’t play football.
That irked Cohen, then a freshman at Frisco Independence High School.
“I went home and thought about it,” she said. “I had some friends on the freshman team at the time and they didn’t have anyone who could kick extra points. I knew I could do that, so I talked to my dad about it and we started practicing.”
Brooke and her dad, Jonathan Cohen, went to the store and bought two footballs to practice with. Together they would go to the field, without a tee, and her dad would hold the ball to practice extra points and field goals.
“It really wasn’t enough footballs; with just two we’d have to go chase them down after every other kick,” Cohen said. “It was a lot of kicking and chasing.”
Since it was the middle of the football season, Cohen wasn’t able to join the team during her freshman season. But she wanted to make sure she was on the field as a sophomore.
She started emailing the coaching staff at Independence High School letting them know she wanted to try out.
“They thought I was joking with them,” Cohen said. “And they actually emailed my soccer coach and told me I needed to stop playing a joke on them, because it’s not funny.”
It wasn’t a joke; in fact it made sense.
Cohen was already an accomplished soccer player. She has played for select level teams, was a member of the high school team, and has won four medals as a member of the Aaron Family JCC”s Team Dallas girls soccer team at the Maccabi Games.
While there were some adjustments to kicking a football from a soccer ball, Cohen was more than capable of getting the job done.
A couple of weeks later Cohen had a tryout with the football team.
“I still remember the words my coach, Coach (Joshua) Davenport, said. He goes, ‘Wow, I’m surprised, you can probably score a lot of extra points for us this year,’” Cohen said.
As a sophomore on the junior varsity team Cohen made 17 of 30 extra points. She wasn’t particularly happy with that showing, and was ready to prove she could do even better as a junior.
So she continued practicing and this past season she was one of the most reliable kickers in the area, at any level.
Cohen made 36 of 37 extra points and also converted on her only field goal attempt, a 28-yarder, for the junior varsity team.
She could have been on the varsity team, but since the junior varsity team didn’t have any other kicking options and there was already a senior kicker, there were more opportunities on JV.
If Cohen was going to be on the junior varsity team, she also wanted to have a bigger role and asked the coaches for an additional position.
At 5-foot-3, Cohen isn’t the most intimidating physical force, so the coach gave her an option of playing cornerback or running back in addition to kicking.
She chose running back and on her first carry she was tackled for a loss of 2 yards.
“I got to the sideline and the coach said, ‘Good job, Brooke!’ and I told him, ‘Please give me another chance. I promise to open my eyes this time,’” Cohen said. “He exclaimed, ‘You closed your eyes?’ but he still gave me another chance and they put me back in and I gained 4 yards.”
While she’s moonlighted as a running back and had six carries this past season, Cohen is looking forward to kicking for the varsity team next season at Independence, and would like to potentially kick for a college football team after that.
“That’s the goal; I’m practicing for that,” Cohen said. “I asked my parents to get me a kicking coach and a strength and conditioning coach, because I’m accurate, but need to get stronger for longer kicks.”
While there was some initial shock from her teammates and coaches, Cohen said playing on the football team at Independence High School hasn’t been a struggle because of her gender.
“It’s like a family and they treat me that way,” Cohen said. “I’m part of the team, so I haven’t run into any problems for being a girl.”
Cohen has also been introduced to a new community in football. In addition to her teammates, she’s met and spoken with other female football players.
“I’m in a group chat with girls across the country that play football,” Cohen said. “It’s a cool opportunity for us to share and talk about our experience on the field. Not everyone gets to play as much as I do, so I like that I have that chance to be such a big part of my team.”

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