To look at McCulloms, she is your regular eighth-grader, but on the field the former cheerleader enjoys tackling and playing rough with guys who are sometimes twice her size. On the field, her teammates call “S,” a nickname given to her for being the team’s “secret weapon.”
After cheering the Bulldogs on during her sixth-grade year, McCollums said she was bored and began wanting to get out and actually play with the guys. Despite her mom’s concerns about injuries, McCollums convinced her mom to let her play last year with the Little Bulldog 135ers.
“I did a couple years of cheerleading and I just got bored of doing it,” McCollums said. “I seen the boys out there playing and I was like - I’ve always wanted to play with the boys - so I was like ‘Geez, I wish I could be out there.’”
After a successful year with the Little Bulldogs, McCollums is enjoying the new challenge of playing with bigger guys. Her friends told it that it would be tougher than playing with the 135ers, and she admits that it is.
“They were right because there’s not a weight limit,” McCollums said. “This, you can have a kid that’s 300 lbs and you can go up to him.”
Bulldogs head coach Joe Colella said that in his 31 years of coaching he has had two other girls start off a season, but McCollums looks like she will be the first to finish. Colella admitted that at the beginning of the year, he had some initial concerns about having a female on the team. He was not sure how it would play out or if it would be a distraction, but McCollums' work ethic and athleticism showed quickly.
“I think the kids accepted her and when they seen what she could do, I mean she got in all the drills. She never backed away from anything. She took her lumps and bumps on her too,” Colella said.
With a 6-0 start to the season, McCollums is getting the chance to make history as a girl on the team, but also as a player on the first eighth-grade team to play eight games of the season.
“No other team at the junior high level, has ever played eight games before. So this is our first time to play eight games,” Colella said.
As far as what makes her successful on the field, Colella said that he feels that it is McCollums' toughness and knowledge of the game that has helped her make it this far. Although Sabrina McCollums is a female, Colella said that she was not treated any differently than the rest of the team, except that she changes in a different locker room than the guys.
“I think we were very fair to her. We didn’t show any favoritism one way or the other. She’s earned everything she’s gotten here,” Colella said.
McCollums said that she doesn’t know how long she will continue playing after this year since she knows that the guys just keep getting bigger and bigger through high school and into college. In addition to her love for football, McCollums dreams of working with animals someday as a zoologist or a veterinarian. She talks passionately about her desire to reform animal healthcare someday.
“People are going into debt just because of their animals and their animals end up dying or something,” McCollums said. “I want to sort of change that and sort of help people to help their animals.”
Back on the football field, McCollums said that her teammates and friends have been very supportive of her playing football with the guys.
“She’s a tough little girl, tough,” Colella said.
Sabrina McCollums, front left, tackles a teammate during football practice at Poland Middle School, where she plays linebacker on an all-boy football team.