Nick’s Notes: Playing like a girl

MARSHALL-Thirteen year-old Mo’ne Davis gave new meaning to the phrase “you play like a girl” when she pitched a two-hit shutout against a team of all boys at the Little League World Series last week.

She captivated the world with a mixture of eye-catching talent and icy-cool poise.

While she probably won’t be featured on ESPN, Marshall’s own Megan Vogl has faced similar issues to Davis during her athletic career on the soccer field.

Due to a dearth of girls soccer teams in the area, Vogl has played on boys teams for most of her career. High school opponents wondered what she was even doing on the field. Good thing she knew how to handle it.

“Scoring and taking the ball away was the most fun,” she said.

The spritely Vogl had to work around the physical differences. “It was a little difficult because I was small, five foot one, and playing against six foot tall guys,” she said.

She eventually was able to use her speed and soccer smarts to hold her own with the boys.

“She was probably the smartest soccer player on our team,” said her former head coach at Marshall High, Andrew Larson.

Vogl was even named Minnesota prep athlete of the week last year after scoring two goals against Southwest Minnesota Christian.

She has since traded her Tiger orange for Mustang brown and just started classes at SMSU.

It may seem weird for most of us to see a girl playing at a high level against male opponents. It’s the opposite for Vogl. She recently tweeted that it was “weird” to be playing on an all girls team.

Athletes with incongruous qualities are usually greeted with unbridled fascination. Davis helped drive record television ratings for the LLWS.

Asian-American NBA point guard Jeremy Lin created a phenomenon, “Linsanity” when he seemingly dominated NBA teams by himself during a two-week stretch back in 2012.

And if you don’t know who Michael Sam is, you probably don’t get out much.

All of these stories were covered extensively by both sports and regular media.

Those athletes all helped break down a few stereotypes, but none of them have become the sports saviors that we hyped them up to be. None of them probably wanted to be either. They all just wanted to play.

Sometimes we sportswriters just need to need to step back and accept that not every difference is monumental.

Sometimes they’re just part of the game.

Vogl didn’t overstate the challenges she faced. She didn’t whine and didn’t clamor for attention.

She just played like a girl and good things happened.