MASON, Mich. — Girls playing football isn't unheard of, but it's not common, either. At Mason High School, the varsity football team has one female player, and her name is Natalia Pluff.
Natalia is a senior this year, and she started playing football when she was a sophomore.
"I didn't really think to join at first," Natalia said.
Like her two older sisters, Natalia was a soccer player. She spent a lot of time in the school's weight room.
"I would go after school every day, just because it was a really fun passion of mine," Natalia said.
That is where football coach Gary Houghton noticed her determination.
"When he approached me he asked, 'You come to the weight room every day. You want to join? Are you interested in joining football?'" Natalia said. "And I'm like, 'This is like, the opportunity of a lifetime! I'm down for it!'"
"When I heard her tell me, 'Mom, I want to join the football team.' What?," Natalia's mother Cynthia Pluff said. "Since 7 years old, you start playing soccer. We invested so much for you to go and hopefully get some scholarships to go to college, and now you're telling me...football?"
With her soccer background, becoming a kicker just made sense.
Natalia said Houghton thought it'd be "really cool if I was the female kicker because it's not very common."
"Football is a male-dominated sport, and we knew that wasn't going to stop her to play the game," Cynthia said.
Cynthia always taught her daughters to go after what they want.
"You fight for it. It doesn't matter what it is, or who it is, even me," Cynthia said. "You do what you have to do because it is your future. It is your life. It is your happiness. So you have to go for it."
So that is exactly what Natalia did.
"My first year it was very...uncomfortable. I stood out a lot. The only female. Not a lot of people would talk to me," Natalia said. "I definitely felt like I didn't belong. It felt like I was underestimated a lot...I started to just not think of that because I knew for myself that I had to push through for myself, do it myself. I have to do it for me."
Now, as a senior on the varsity team, Natalia doesn't mind standing out.
"I like to stand out now," Natalia said, "and show the world that I can be just as good as the guys."
"We're very proud of her because of what she's accomplished," Cynthia said. "She worked so hard, and she's so determined, and that is paying off right now."
"I hope to continue playing college football, but as for what colleges to go to, I'm still exploring those options," Natalia said.
For now, Natalia is focusing on improving as a kicker, hoping for a scholarship.
Natalia also ranked 8th in the state in May for discus.
Mason High School Football's first game is Thursday, but their first home game will be Sept. 2.
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