Wide receiver breaking both barriers and stereotypes in Arkansas
CEDARVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - Breaking the glass ceiling is becoming more common as girls are playing high school football across the nation. But Mikayla Oden said there are still barriers and stereotypes to break as a female wide receiver.
Donning a homecoming crown and football cleats is not a typical sight, but Oden has done it three times and shows no signs of slowing down.
"Just because the stereotype is that we're weaker doesn't mean we can't keep up with the men," Oden said in an interview with CBS affiliate KFSM.
By dressing up for homecoming and playing football, Oden is bucking the gender roles that society has labeled to many women. And she doesn't shy away from the big plays either. Right now, Oden is the starting wide receiver for the Cedarville Pirates.
"I've always loved the sport and ever since I've been playing it, I've always pursued the sport," she said.
Since the third grade, Oden has been around the sport. Her father, Brannon Oden, who is a former semi-pro player is her biggest inspiration. He said sometimes he thinks of her as his "first-born son."
"She's just another player," said head coach Max Washausen. "That's the way I think of it and we try to make her better everyday just like every other kid on the team."
And that mentality is passed down to her fellow players as well. Oden said her teammates always have her back, but in the past she has had to prove herself where others didn't.
"I can be like one of the boys," she said. "I can tough it out."
Oden hopes that her dedication to the game will inspire other girls to pursue their dreams.
"I've seen more and more girls play football since I've started and it's actually making me proud of how far we've come," she said.
Even though Oden said she will always have a love for the game, she intends to become a veterinarian once she graduates from high school.