By Julie Buehler

You should know the name Amanda “Hot Hands” Harker.

I gave her that nickname, and I’m hoping it sticks, because I’m hoping she sticks with football.

Harker is a sophomore at Xavier College Preparatory High School and decided to punt playing volleyball and try out for the football team.


She discovered the game as the team manager last year, but after seeing how much fun the fellas were having, she decided to strap on pads and run routes.

It’s not an easy road, and right now, Harker says there’s still much to learn: route trees, a new language, a new way of training, a different mindset and, oh yeah, being the only girl on the team.
Harker’s coaches love her tenacity and despite being under the weather, she still practices. Just like any other committed player would.

Harker came on my radio show and said the physicality of football is a little daunting. Her parents thought she was joking when she told them she wanted to switch sports, but she wasn’t.

There was an opportunity in front of her and she took it.

Whether “Hot Hands” Harker becomes a star player or fails to make the team is irrelevant to me. She has the opportunity to let her athleticism, passion and work ethic decide that.

That was an opportunity that I was not aware of when I was growing up or even in high school.

But as famous speaker Nido Qubein pointed to, “Change brings opportunity.”

Our society is changing and the once “male-dominated” sports world is opening its doors to women in a way that creates opportunity for all to dream and pursue new goals.

And that is the greatest gift of all: to lift the veil of stereotypes and allow the individual to pursue their passion to the best of their abilities.

Einstein once said, “All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.”

That development is no longer relegated to gender stereotypes. And what’s entirely remarkable is: kids already get it. Adults need to catch up.

Monday, I spoke to some 450 middle school students at Palm Desert Charter Middle School Career Day. I had a blast discussing sports talk radio, the media, the Super Bowls, NFL Drafts and Hall of Fame inductions I’ve covered and interestingly enough, in each class, I was asked if I ever dreamed of playing football as a kid.

As much as I love the game, my answer was no. I played soccer and that was as close as I could get, or so I thought.

In fact, there really weren’t girls playing football when I grew up. I dressed up at Steve Young for Halloween when I was their age, but I never envisioned myself in game action because I’d never seen any other woman do it and I suppose the idea never crossed my mind.

That’s why Harker’s experience is so inspiring. It’s irrelevant if she makes the team or not, I hope she does, but I’m proud of the fact Xavier’s coaching staff is letting her talent decide that, because she’s not alone. This is just the beginning.

I sat next to a 9-year-old girl on a flight to Seattle last month. She saw my football research and announced to me, “I want to play football. I’ll be just like Patrick Willis.”

“God bless you,” I said. She then outlined why she’s the next great linebacker, and even pointed out that her ponytail could easily fit under a helmet.

Her confidence in what would have been considered ridiculous a decade ago was charming and inspiring and profound.

She understood an opportunity existed in her future that I did not comprehend when I was her age or even beyond.
And while I’m in sports media and therefore more keenly aware of the changes that are sweeping this industry, it’s encouraging that kids have embraced the changes and are moving into exciting lives without petty societal roadblocks to impede their dreams.
And as the great Yoda said, “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

No longer do women have to try to fit in sports because they’ve had brothers or some connection to testosterone. The narrative is changing so everyone can be equal in the world of sports because they love sports as much as we all do.

Julie Buehler hosts the Coachella Valley’s most popular sports talk radio show, “Buehler’s Day Off” every day from 3-6 on 1010 KXPS, the valley’s all sports station. She’s an avid gym rat, slightly sarcastic and more likely to recite Steve Young’s career passing stats than American Idol winners. Tune in M-F 3-6 pst at or watch the show on Ustream.