Long Reach junior running back Mimi Britt and that play call will forever be linked.
With the clock ticking down in the first half of an eventual win against Centennial on Sept. 21, the Lightning drew up a play from the Eagles’ 5-yard line for Britt to try and make history.
Darting through the right side into the end zone, she made the most of it — becoming the first female player in the program’s 22-year history to score a touchdown.
“I actually hadn’t practiced that particular play much in practice, but I knew as soon as I heard it that I was getting the ball and that was going to be my chance,” she said. “I was definitely a little nervous, but I just tried to put all my focus on finding the hole and speeding through. The biggest thing was that I knew I had to make it count. You just never know if you are going to get another chance, so in my mind that was it … that was my moment.”
Following Britt’s cutback touchdown run, which included a broken tackle on the goal line, a host of teammates joined her to celebrate. Among the most excited was offensive lineman Seth Vint, who sprinted over and lifted her into the air.
In a game that ended up as a 60-0 Lightning victory, improving Long Reach to 2-1 this fall, Britt’s score undoubtedly served as the highlight of the night.
“It’s my first tackle-football touchdown,” said Britt, who didn’t play tackle before high school and didn’t score at all as a freshman on JV in 2016. “This is definitely what I’ve been working toward … and to see the reaction of my teammates, coaches, family and friends that just made it even better.”
Britt first started playing flag football when she was 6-years old, playing in co-rec leagues through middle school. But because of her size, she never played in any recreational tackle leagues.
Even now, standing 5 feet tall and weighing 130 pounds, she’s still one of the smallest players on the field. However, what she has always lacked in size, Britt says she makes up for with quickness and strength.
“Being quick and low to the ground, as a running back, it gives me a little bit of an advantage,” she said. “Plus, even though I’m smaller, I’m still powerful. I think the coaches just needed me to prove that I could protect myself and once I showed that, they said they were going to give me opportunities.”
For Britt, who also does cheerleading in the winter and track in the spring for Long Reach, just making the varsity team in August was a significant accomplishment. A broken leg that she suffered running track as a freshman had kept her off the football field as a sophomore.
After a long recovery process, she was unsure if she would be able to do enough to impress the coaches and earn a varsity roster spot.
“It was almost like starting over again and I put a lot of time into building up my stamina and strength heading into tryouts,” she said. “So when Coach [Jamie] Willis called me into his office and told me I had made the team, that meant so much.”
Prior to the game against Centennial, Britt had gotten just one carry in Long Reach’s first three contests. But against the Eagles, she carried the ball a team-high 11 times and finished as one of three Lightning players with more than 20 yards rushing.
Since the game, posts on social media about her touchdown have gone viral and Britt says she’s had numerous people reach out to her with positive comments. She adds that she hopes this is just the beginning for her and that she can continue to be an inspiration for others.
“I honestly didn’t expect for this much energy to be coming from my touchdown, and if anything it’s just motivating me more to work even harder and prove that it’s not just a one time thing,” Britt said. “I just really love football, that’s why I play. I’m glad I’m getting a chance to show that women can do it too.”
Reach Brent Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports