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She Puts It All on the Line: Julia Mackenzie’s story

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (FORT WAYNE’S NBC) – Julia Mackenzie began her high school athletic career as a discus thrower on the Bluffton track and field team, but her itch to play football never left.

She approached Tigers Head Coach, Brent Kunkel. He approved.

“I like the idea of somebody tackling somebody I guess,” Mackenzie said. “I thought maybe I could do that.”

Mackenzie became a lineman for the Tigers and began to tackle her teammates.

“It feels fantastic. I like it a lot. I like tackling a lot. I like getting pancaked sometimes,” she said.

“We don’t take her lightly like anybody else. She gets back up and she fights,” teammate, Kain Thornton said.

Mackenzie doesn’t mind feeling the pain. But her mother, she’s a little uneasy about the idea of playing football.

“I feel like she’s just nervous for me because I’m her little girl,” she said.

She first told her mother, she would play a safer position.

“I obviously knew I was not going to be the kicker. I was like there’s no way,” she said. “We had a scrimmage and it just kind of slipped out. I was like, ‘Yeah, I was on the line.’ She was like, ‘What?’

After a little surprise, eventually mom came around.

When Mackenzie steps on the field, she almost forgets how different she is from the other players.

“Being a girl doesn’t really cross my mind,” she said.

“She’s a role model and inspiration, not just for girls, but for guys. People that are told all the time they can’t do things, that they can’t fit in. She’s more than doing that with Bluffton this year,” Kunkel said.

“Stay humble to yourself, stay humble to people around you,” she said.

One young woman tackling the idea of staying true to herself, and playing football.


Megan Salle

Megan Salle is the Sports Reporter and Weekend Sports Anchor for Fort Wayne’s NBC.

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