Caroline Pla, an 11-year-old student at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Doylestown, petitioned the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to change its rule and allow girls to play Catholic Youth Organization football. The archdiocese announced on March 14 that it would lift the ban and allow girls to play, beginning in the 2013 season.
The Midweek Wire asked Caroline to describe, in her own words, what this experience has been like for her. Here is her essay.
In all honesty, I didn’t think this would happen. I thought for sure the answer would be no.
Yet, still, on March 14, the day I will never forget, I was bursting with excitement. I ran down the walking path on the way home from school, and I could just feel it. After months of working on this mission, it all paid off.
The rule has been changed. Anyone, regardless of gender, can now play Catholic Youth Organization football in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
As I said, I didn’t expect any of this. So, when I heard the news, I was completely shocked. This whole time while trying to get this rule changed there were different reasons why the rule stood the way it did. Those reasons said to me that the rule wasn’t going to be changed. So I guess “shocked” is the word to use here, yet shocked can be good or bad. Let me just tell you, this was the greatest shock I’ve ever experienced.
If you could have seen me the second I found out, you would agree when I say that moment was the most exciting experience I’ve ever had. I was jumping high in the air, cheering, and just non-stop smiling.
I’ve never felt that way before. I never felt like I made a difference before, but then and there I did. Just to know that there was a chance that girls might not have been able to play CYO football, but now they can, makes me excited. It all makes me excited to know that I am allowed to strap on my helmet and step back onto the field.
Ever since December 2012, my supporters and I have been trying to make this change. For months now, I have gained supporters from all over the country, and some from all over the world.
From the signers of my petition on change.org, to all of my friends and family, Sam Gordon, everyone that ran my story, and even Ellen DeGeneres, their support helped make this difference. I would like to thank everyone because having people behind me with support was the best part of all of this. These positive people boosted my confidence to make me work hard towards making this difference.
I also need to thank Archbishop Chaput, because I know that this decision was left in his hands. I think he made a good decision and I surely am glad about his choice.
All in all, this has been a great experience. I’ve learned lessons that will stick with me through the rest of my life: If you want to see a change, make it happen.
Michael Jackson’s song, Man in the Mirror, repeatedly says, “Make that change.” That’s exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to change that rule so that both boys and girls can play CYO football. Now they can, and that’s all I wanted.
If a little girl wants to suit up and play football, now there is no rule stopping her from reaching that dream. That is the same dream that I now can continue to live.
To see Caroline Pla’s reaction first hand, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzXYZV9DzXQ&feature=youtu.be