Girl plays football with boys to honor late father

One little girl is playing on a field full of boys but when she’s playing football, there’s only one guy she’s thinking about.

No. 21 is just one of the guys, but underneath the helmet is a girl. Meet Nasaya Jackson. 

“Now your mom tells me that you’re really good,” a FOX 35 reporter said to Jackson.  “I am!” responded. 

At nine years old, she’s getting a lot of buzz as the only girl playing on the Leesburg Yellow Jackets Pop Warner football team. 

“It’s fun. I have a lot of friends on the football team,” said Jackson. 

But for Nasaya, football is more than just a game. 

“We still have our moments where we cry together,” said Jackson’s mother Melissa Gerard.

Nasaya’s father died last April in a motorcycle accident. He was the one who encouraged her to play football.

"After her dad passed away, she was like ‘Mom, I really don’t want to play,’ and I was like ‘Nasaya, you have to keep going and push yourself because’ I said ‘that’s what your dad would want you to do,’” said Gerard.

So that’s what she did.

“Her playing changed. She started playing a lot…like one of the boys,” said Gerard.

Last year, she scored a game-winning touchdown after ignoring her coach’s advice. 

“When the coach said to go to the left side, I went to the right side and made a touchdown because I was following my dad.” 

Now he follows her in her heart.

“I know he’s there watching. Practices and especially more of the games and she’s doing the runs and playing, I get very emotional because if he was here, it’d be different. That’s who she really plays for.”

Her first game of the season is Saturday morning.