Football pioneer Erin DiMeglio sidelined in her hardcourt ambitions

As a third-string quarterback for South Plantation High School near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Erin DiMeglio became a household name during the fourth quarter of her squad’s season opener on August 31, 2012. Taking two snaps for the Paladins in a 31-14 win versus Nova, she became a media darling as she was the first female quarterback to compete in a Florida varsity boys football game. She followed it up with a pass completion in a September 21, 2012 win over Piper High School.

Getting prepared to be named Homecoming Queen, Photo credit: Photographer: Robert Duyos, Sun Sentinel

Getting prepared to be named Homecoming Queen, Photo credit: Photographer: Robert Duyos, Sun Sentinel

After her historic accomplishment, the accolades poured in. In addition to being named Homecoming Queen in an October 11 win over Hollywood Hills (ironically, the Homecoming King was her teammate, wide receiver Hordley Seide), she was recognized with The Miami Herald Excellence Award at the All-Broward Athletic Awards. Her senior class at Plantation voted her as Most Athletic.

Image obtained from:

Image obtained from:

In addition, GTM Sports representatives, the New York Times, Sports Illustrated Kids and People Magazine showered her with national recognition. The Congressional Record also made mention of her. Representative Lois Frankel, a Democrat from West Palm Beach mentioned her in a March 2013 speech as recognition of Women’s History Month. Of note, she even had the opportunity to fly out to California and make an appearance on the Nickelodeon show Figure It Out.

Despite her parents’ concerns about injuries on the gridiron, she actually suffered more injuries on the hardcourt. Measuring in at 5 feet 5 inches and 140 pounds, she was also a star point guard on Plantation’s girls high school team. During her basketball tenure, she suffered from a broken nose, a torn labrum, dislocated fingers and a concussion.

Currently enrolled at Central Florida, her athletic endeavors have temporarily been sidelined. Having earned a $20,000 scholarship from Foot Locker’s Scholar Athlete Program, her goal was to earn a spot as with the CFU Lady Knights as a walk-on.

Once the roster was announced, it was disappointing to see that DiMeglio’s name was not listed. Majoring in biology at UCF, it is difficult to determine if an incident in June 2013 derailed her ambitions. Sadly, she was charged with battery in a domestic violence case on June 28, 2013. Booked at 4:13 am, it was a first degree misdemeanor. Little is known as to what led to the arrest but it is very common for athletes to be targets due to their popularity.

Although tackle football and basketball are on the back burner for now, fans can only hope that they have not heard the last of DiMeglio. In addition to the possibility of continuing in recreational flag football to maintain her arm strength and accuracy, there will definitely be a handful of teams in the Women’s Football Alliance and the Independent Women’s Football League waiting for her services.

Most of the quarterbacks in the WFA and IWFL competed in other sports during college. The most famous example may be Allison Cahill of the Boston Militia. She was once a stand-out on the hardcourt with the Princeton Tigers.

As one of the pioneers in football for women, DiMeglio is certainly one to look for at a future IFAF Women’s World Football Championships. There is no question that with her athleticism and long-time quarterbacking skills that she could one day be worthy of consideration for a roster spot with the red, white and blue.

For now, not competing with UCF in the upcoming basketball season may prove to be a blessing in disguise. With a 2012 that was exciting yet overwhelming, perhaps the time away from the spotlight will provide her with a renewed sense of focus. The arrest was an unfortunate affair but it should not tarnish her image or affect her ambitions.

With the goal of wanting to play NCAA women’s basketball, she has to establish herself all over again. The ability to withstand the setback and work harder to succeed is the difference in what makes a champion. Having made history as the first girl to play quarterback in a Florida high school football game, she has the tenacity and fortitude needed to make those goals come true.