South Plantation senior Erin DiMeglio didn’t set out to be a pioneer when she earned a spot on the school’s football team last year.
Yet in the opener against Nova on Aug. 31, DiMeglio became the first female quarterback in Florida history to play in a regular-season varsity game.
Her story reached a national audience when publications such as The New York Times and People Magazine covered it. Girls from across the country sent Facebook messages about what her achievement meant to them.
“I didn’t think anybody would care at all,” DiMeglio said. “I thought local stuff, but definitely not national news.
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“The whole game I was focused. I had a feeling I was going to get in the game. I knew that our first-string quarterback would get a good enough score so I could get in the game.”
DiMeglio, who will attend the University of Central Florida and major in biology, hopes to walk on the women’s basketball team. After football season ended, she rejoined the girls’ basketball squad and competed in flag football.
A couple months after DiMeglio’s feat, Sam Gordon also made headlines during Title IX’s 40th anniversary. The 9-year-old dominated an all-boys’ tackle league in Utah, something DiMeglio never had the chance to do as a kid.
“I never in a million years thought it would happen,” her older sister Amy said. “All the neighbors’ kids would play football and she was always asking to play in little league. Our dad would say, ‘You have to ask mom to play with the boys.’ ”
Honored with The Miami Herald Excellence Award at the All-Broward Athletic Awards on Friday, DiMeglio also received national recognition from GTM Sports representatives.
Accolades are nothing new for DiMeglio, who was named homecoming queen. She was also a recipient of Foot Locker’s Scholar Athlete Program and DoSomething.org’s $20,000 scholarship.
In November, DiMeglio was flown to California to film an appearance on the Nickelodeon show Figure It Out that will air in July.