An ongoing controversy has inspired a West Passyunk native to recall her football days.
Roe Germana approaches life with an appreciable blend of idealism and pragmatism. The philosophical movements help the West Passyunk product to recount the joy of her physical movements as a football force for the since-shuttered St. Edmond School, formerly 23rd and Mifflin streets.
Current backlash against a Doylestown girl’s quest to continue to compete against boys has given Germana even more cause to reminisce as she marks the 30th anniversary of her last display of gridiron gusto.
“I definitely will support her for as long as she can keep up,” the Hamilton, N.J., resident said Friday of 11-year-old Carolina Pla, whose family is contending with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia over its claim that Catholic Youth Organization football is a full-contact sport designated for boys, with her reaching an age where lining up against male foes could prove dangerous as an underlying element. “She will be weeded out as everyone ages and will end up knocked around. It’s reality, natural selection, after all, and those guys are going to grow fast.”
A native of the 2000 block of South Croskey Street, Germana experienced an entirely different existence when she began donning a helmet as a third-grader. A street hockey, touch football and wiffle-ball buff, the self-professed tomboy had little knowledge of the intricacies of tackle football prior to choosing it as a pastime following a banquet for older brother Wayne, but the opportunity to master them had not inspired her to suit up anyway.
“I wanted trophies,” Germana said of the significance of her sibling’s pigskin event. “I had my interest in playing approved shortly after and let pure enthusiasm guide me.”
Ample school and community support aided the girl, who quickly became a consummate contributor, earning plaudits from opposing coaches such as Pat DiPilla.
“Rosie was a tough cookie,” the present athletic director of Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St., said of trying to devise ways for his St. Monica School squad, 16th and Porter streets, to stop Germana, whose father, Sam, served as a St. Edmond’s assistant coach. “She was as aggressive as any boy out there, too.”
Germana became a starter in her second season, with her gender being an under-the-radar topic, as she never heard of any overt criticism of her participating. She knew of no rule barring her from fulfilling her fullback and linebacker duties, though her family never approached the diocese for confirmation.
“Because of my background, I never felt pressure to be too girly, so I saw playing tackle football as my way of being a trailblazer,” she said. “I mean, I dreamt of being in the Super Bowl.”
That ambition led Germana to become St. Edmond’s captain, and she garnered classroom respect, too, serving as the eighth-grade class president. As her elementary football schedule dwindled, she knew beginning high school would cause her to try other ventures.
“I attended Goretti and recall receiving an invitation to try out for the freshman team at St. John Neumann,” Germana said of the former Grays Ferry secondary site at 2600 Moore St., which merged with her alma mater in 2004. “Though I consider playing, I wasn’t willing to end up hurt, and I know I would have had my [butt] kicked, so that was that.”
Fine with the transition, she played basketball and softball for the East Passyunk Crossing institution, though tearing her ACL as a senior jeopardized her opportunities to play collegiately. She matriculated at New Jersey’s Rider University, where academics came to top athletics as her focus.
“At that time, women had few professional sports opportunities,” Germana said of making marketing matter more than courting conquests. “I stuck with recreational play for some time, but I gave that up years ago.”
She would obtain a master’s degree in business administration from the Garden State location and eventually landed her current job with Dow Jones & Co. Sports have remained a reliable pitch for her to learn about herself, as she has served as an assistant coach for her 9-year-old son Justin’s baseball and basketball teams. She has been following the Pla clan’s fight to keep Caroline on her Bucks County unit, a process that diocesan spokesman Ken Gavin has said will involve a review of his employer’s stance on football-related gender integration, and she stated that her only child likely will become aware of the societal implications, as she challenges him to keep an open mind.
“I don’t want him to think that girls have to be limited to certain activities and that boys must think a certain way or need to be afraid to show emotions or even cry,” Germana said. “I’d like for them to let Caroline play for as long as it is safe for her to play. I don’t know how long that might be, but cutting her off now would be unfair.
“I give her credit for her fighting spirit. It reminds me of the same streak I feel fortunate to have shown.”
Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at email@example.com or ext. 124.