By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Port Jervis — Courtney Bedford likes to mix it up on the football field and hit. She plays the game with no fear.
But this isn’t another story about how rare it is for a girl to play football. That’s because Bedford, a senior, is basically one of the guys and has earned the respect of her teammates.
Bedford, who is 5-foot-4, 136 pounds, plays special teams for the Raiders, lining up on their kickoff team. She is also a reserve middle linebacker.
“It’s not for everyone, my parents were a little skeptical,” Bedford said. “But now they know I can do it and are proud of me. I’ve been playing for many years. At first, I think the other players weren’t sure if they should hit me. But I like hitting and I’m fine with it. I just love the experience.”
Added Bedford: “It’s a lot of fun and I love being part of the team. I love the experience.”
There are girls dotting other Section 9 rosters. Kassandra Weatherly, a senior, is a kicker for Eldred and senior Alaina Gaughan is the teams’ punter. Both are soccer players. Freshman Marina Schneider is a wide receiver. Senior Amber Dunham is a reserve wide receiver/defensive back for Valley Central.
“I’m glad we have them on the team, they are athletes,” said Eldred coach Steve Barone, who previously coached at Middletown and Wallkill, and played at Division I Miami (Fla.). “It’s not a big deal at all. I thought it would be a big deal, but it isn’t. This is a small school and everyone knows each other.”
Bedford became interested in football as a child growing up outside of Miami. Her father, Rick, often took her to Miami Dolphins games and young Courtney enjoyed all of the action. She began playing youth football when she moved to Port Jervis and played on the Raiders’ modified team as a seventh and eighth-grader, where Bedford earned a reputation.
“When Courtney was coming up, the coaches in the program told me that she was one of our best tacklers,” Port Jervis coach Matt Polanis said. “She is tough and we always knew we had a good player in Courtney.”
Still, concerned with her safety, Bedford’s parents had her sit out during her freshman and sophomore years. Bedford return to the gridiron and started as wide receiver and linebacker on the Port Jervis jayvee team. There are no free rides for Bedford on varsity.
She hits and takes hits, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“That is the person with the most heart on the team right there,” Port Jervis running back/linebacker Michael Piscitelli said. “She hits me hard and she has taken hits. Courtney is not scared out there. Courtney gives it her all and we all think that she is awesome.”