Jennifer Chelette, an eighth-grader at Montegut Middle School in Louisiana, is making headlines after her story as a cheerleader-turned-football player went viral.
On an average game day, her face is decorated in glitter and her hair is contained by a comically large bow. In the first half of the game, the 14-year-old is accompanied by a cheerleading squad and eagerly encourages the boys on the football team.
However, by halftime, she slips into the bathroom to exchange the skirt for a No. 55 jersey and a yellow helmet. She then joins the football team for kickoff.
“It’s not like any other sport,” Chelette told PEOPLE, discussing her relationship with football. “It’s the only sport where you can go out there and hit somebody and get a really big adrenaline rush. It doesn’t compare to anything.”
Chelette, who is a cheerleader, softball star, and football player, grew up watching her older brothers play the game. Since she was young, she was desperate to give the contact sport a try, which made her parents relatively nervous.
“She was my diva when she was a baby, but when she turned 2, she became the water girl for her older brother’s football team,” her mother recalled. “At 6 years old, she told her dad and I that she wanted to play football. We were like, no, no.”
When her parents finally gave in, it was an attempt to steer her away from the sport. According to Chelette’s father, he assumed she would grow out of it. “I wanted her to get it out of her system. I didn’t think she would like it — and that backfired,” he said.
Jennifer Chelette takes her losses in stride
When she took to the Lacache-Montegut Middle School Knights football team to battle the Houma Junior High School Bulldogs, she was nothing less than prepared. Playing defensive tackle in the second half of the game, she consistently went up against the opposing team, pouring everything into blocking the Bulldogs.
“She walks the walk on both the offensive side and defensive side,” coach Chris Duplantis relayed, speaking of the 114-year-old girl. “She tackles boys. She blocks the hell out of them. She balls out.”
“It gives me an adrenaline rush and makes me want to give it right back to them,” Chelette said of being tackled. “I don’t really feel anything during the game, and even if I do feel anything, I ignore it until after.”
Despite her team losing 52-6, her family made sure to recognize she tried her best. “Never be ashamed of a good day’s dirt,” Chelette’s grandfather told her with a smile.
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