By: Bell West
2022 is the year of the Tiger.
The tiger is the symbol of ambition, courage, self-confidence and a commitment to help others. By these traits alone, 2022 might as well be the year of sophomore Jordyn Dodson-Jenson.
Dodson-Jenson made Glenelg history by becoming the school’s first female football player when she held the first extra point for the Gladiators against Hammond High School on Sep. 2 and has started every game since. Ambition, courage, self-confidence: check.
Dodson-Jenson said she has loved football since she was a young girl. It was a shared family passion in her home and as she grew up watching it, she fell more and more in love with the sport, evident in her playing on the Western Howard County Warhawks youth football team. Dodson-Jenson said that football is the biggest team sport and the unpredictability of the sport sets it apart from other activities and sports.
Although she did not play as a freshman, her love of the sport never diminished. At the end of her freshman year, when long-time friends, sophomores Sydnee Pence and Gavin Esslinger, along with JV Football Head Coach Gage Trawick, urged Dodson-Jenson to try out, the decision was obvious.
Dodson–Jenson put in dozens of hours of practice including strength training, kicking drills, and one-on-one training with Coach Trawick. When tryouts arrived, Dodson-Jenson was ready.
Coach Trawick was impressed with her and having her become a part of the team was a no-brainer.
“I was most impressed by her determination and willingness to do whatever is needed for the team,” Trawick said. “She's very determined to get something right and that's something that stands out. The team really comes together around her and she even taught me a few things.”
The players agree, noting that Dodson-Jenson instantly fit right in with the team.
“I've played with her before and she's always just been a good player,” freshman Jonathan Sexton said.
Other teammates are quick to point out that her demeanor and personality are most notable, including freshman Daniel Bianco who said she helped make his transition from homeschool to public school much easier. “She was just, in general, a very nice person,” Bianco said.
And as far as there was any concern about Dodson-Jenson joining a team of male players, according to freshma Brody Haden and sophomore Ethan Chen, it was a non-issue.
“It’s inspiring to people who might not fit the mold of a stereotypical football player,” Haden said.
“The team and players are kinder and more open and inclusive because of her,” Chen added.
Dodson-Jenson said she feels like she’s as much a part of the team as any male player.
“They're all my brothers and I feel like I am very much a part of the team,” she said. “Being a girl doesn’t change anything. It’s inspiring to the next generation and in the future I hope there will be more opportunities for girls.
“If you want to do something you should do it,” she added. “It's about the work ethic. If you're going to put the work in, just go for it and make your own opportunities.”
Dodson-Jenson said she's grateful that she’s had the opportunity to play on the team and she feels good knowing that she earned her spot just like everyone else. Trawick said that was his goal and that he “wants each athlete to look back at the end of the year with improvement and fond memories.”
So what can supporters expect to see out of Dodson-Jenson?
“Improvement each day and hopefully next year I’ll be in a varsity jersey!”
Until then, fans can catch Dodson-Jenson playing as the placeholder for JV this Friday starting at 4:30pm against rival Howard High School.