TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – With week one fast upon us we’re about to see a unique brand of football fans all across the Wabash Valley.
We’ve all seen that super fan, known as the football mom.
Perched up in the bleachers; watching intently. A football mom is as easy to spot as the cheer team or the starting quarterback. She is decked out in her son’s school colors and you’re likely to let her opinion be heard, even over shrill sound of the whistle.
Brenda Garibaldi watches her son just as proudly as the other moms in the bleachers at Terre Haute South… But her game analysis might carry a little more weight.
Later this year it’ll be Brenda in the stripes, the one blowing the whistle.
“I’ve always not been gender orientated,” Garibaldi explained. “I’ve said you know what if you’re an official it doesn’t really matter. Sex creed orientation anything, if you are a good official then that’s what counts.”
A softball official for years, Brenda makes her debut under the Friday night lights during week two at a game in Indianapolis.
“The excitement of just being on the field… The excitement of the players the coaches the enthusiasm… To me it’s an honor to be on that field because if you look at those kids that put in the dedication and the hard work, the sweat,” she continued. “To me it’s an honor to be on the field with those student athletes.”
She’ll be just the fourth woman in the state to work a varsity football game.
“My experience last year was, of course when I walk on the field they start, ‘she has a ponytail’ ‘oh that’s a girl’ and I’ll turn around and look and yep it’s a girl.”
Though JV football has given Brenda a preview of what it’s like to be on the field in a predominantly male sport.
“If you know the rules and know the mechanics you’ll be alright, it doesn’t matter who you are.” Stated Chuck Lindner.
Lindner, a Wiley veteran, can see the good Brenda brings to the game.
“If you look there’s a few of us that are getting a little ancient and we’re going to have to get new people to take our places,” he continued. “The younger people we can get involved to fill in and take our places when we’ve got to leave, the better for us.”
It’s another sign of a world evolving around us. A small bridge in the gender gap of the game. A glimpse of the potential for woman to put a thumbprint on football.
“It makes me tell my children look anything that you put your mind to or you want to do you set a goal and you can accomplish it,” Brenda stated.
One last look at the huddle, and you can’t help but notice another young lady, this one in pads. Watching Brenda admirably…the next in a line of tough young women making it cool to play like a girl.