And it wasn’t just about the athletic ability that the girls displayed on the field. Javadifar stressed the importance of their work off the field in order to accomplish their goals, even in sports.
“Remember, you guys are student athletes, your knowledge is power,” she said. “And without that, there are no sports. Continue to push through, continue to work hard, both on and off the field, and you guys will succeed.”
Javadifar holds a doctorate in physical therapy, which she got after being a collegiate athlete during her undergraduate years. Though she works in the NFL now, Javadifar earned her scholarship in basketball. There aren’t too many opportunities at the collegiate level in football yet, after all.
But that’s something the Buccaneers are helping to change. The Buccaneers Foundation has put forth a $250,000 commitment to their Girls in Football scholarship, that awards female football players, whether it’s tackle or flag, at the high school level with a scholarship to go towards pursuing a career in sports at a four-year accredited university. One of the inaugural winners of the scholarship, Jade Rayburn, was also in attendance, having been a former participant in the tournament before she went off to Florida State University this past fall.
“If you look around right now there’s probably coaches right beside you, there’s a GM, there could be the first woman head coach of the NFL sitting right beside you right now,” said Locust to the participants on Thursday. “What MJ and I have done is going to pale in comparison to the promise and potential of anybody that’s here, if this is what you want to do. So, keep pushing.”