Football helps young girl succeed in school

This post was recently featured in the Columbia Missourian  FROM READERS section. We are thrilled to be able to share stories with our community.


Rachel Howell is a Home Parent at Coyote Hill, a Christian Children’s home in Harrisburg. Howell wrote this for the organization’s newsletter and also shared it with us.

*The name of the girl in this story has been changed to protect her identity.

One of the young ladies at Coyote Hill, Karissa*, happens to be one of three girls playing on the Harrisburg Middle School football team this year. She’s demonstrating great tenacity by playing against boys twice her size. At the end of a game, she walks off the field exhausted, but glowing with pride.

I am her Home Parent Mom, and I know there are even greater results being demonstrated at home and at school. Karissa struggled a lot with school last year — not wanting to finish assignments and having no motivation to keep up with her work. This year has been much different.

While I love her enthusiasm for football, I’ve been even more impressed with her attitude at home and at school, especially on game nights. She comes home and works on homework until the minute we leave for the game. After the game, she gets a quick shower and then goes right back to work on her school work until it’s all done — even if it takes an hour or more, and even though she’d love nothing more than lying on the couch and relaxing.

So far this year, she has turned in every piece of assigned homework and done it with a great attitude. That’s so different from last year — and better than any victory on the football field!

Football has not been the only motivating factor in this attitude change. Karissa’s English teacher recently gave the class an interesting assignment. Each of them were supposed to write a letter to Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani schoolgirl who stood up to the Taliban by speaking out for girls’ rights to an education and was shot on her way home from school.

Karissa said, “After learning that other girls don’t get to go to school and can even be shot for trying to go to school, I have a different perspective. I really want to try harder this year!”

A passing whim? Probably not. I have watched Karissa fight to stay ahead with her school work, despite her crazy schedule with football. This girl is going places, and it looks like nothing is holding her back right now! It is an honor to watch her grow and have her as a part of our home.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you’ll consider sharing. Here’s how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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