When Fife’s starting quarterback went down with an injury in the second half of the Trojans’ SPSL 2A playoff game against Clover Park on Friday night, Fife coach Kent Nevin called on his backup quarterback, junior Brynna Nixon.
Her moment came late in the second half, when Nixon rolled out to her right and threw an over-the-shoulder touchdown pass to Elias Faitala.
“We thought it was phenomenal,” Nevin said. “An over-the-shoulder throw. She hit it perfectly. They had good coverage. She put the ball right where it needed to be. My family was going crazy. I was just jumping up and down. I was so excited. We were all so pumped up. Our kids went crazy when she went into the game. The whole team was just elated; they were jumping up and down. She gave everyone high fives on the sideline.”
With the pass, Nixon became the first female quarterback in school history to complete a touchdown pass in a varsity game — and it happened to come in the playoffs.
“It was absolutely amazing,” Nixon said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment since I was a kid. I could tell it was a good ball the second it left my hand. I read Cover 2. I knew Elias was the deep route. When I rolled out, I saw Elias had him on the inside, let him get underneath it and catch it. I was so excited.”
Yes, Nixon is a girl, playing in a sport that’s generally an all-boys sport at the high school level. Nixon has been drawn to the game for as long as she can remember.
She recalls watching a Seattle Seahawks game when she was just in second grade.
“I was like, ‘Mom and Dad, I want to be the person who makes that diving catch into the end zone.’ They looked for the closest football program, and it was Fife,” Nixon said.
Fife’s program only had third- and fourth-grade options, so Nixon had to wait until she hit the third grade.
“The second I hit it, I signed up,” Nixon said. “(My parents have) been supporting me since day one. I’m lucky to have parents who have supported me through everything.”
The fact that Nixon is a girl doesn’t seem to bother her teammates, and it certainly doesn’t bother Nevin, who has strived to create a culture of inclusivity at Fife with players from all different racial backgrounds, encouraging many of his players to join the school’s Pacific Islanders Club, among other things.
“We just see our kids,” Nevin said. “We don’t see anything else other than their character and what they bring to the team. As long as you’re coming in and giving your best effort, we don’t care about much else. We want everyone to come in and have a great experience.”
It’s a culture that has made Nixon feel like just another player on the team.
“I hardly even think about it,” she said. “Every time I step on the field, it’s like I’m playing with my brothers, my family. I feel immediately surrounded by them. (Nevin) coaches kids to grow up into better people. He’s coaching you to win at football and the game of life. … He never has looked at someone differently because of how they looked or what they did.”
If Fife starting quarterback Gabe Duenas is unable to play in Friday night’s playoff road game against North Kitsap on Nov. 8, Nixon is in line to be the starter.
“I would approach it like I would every other week,” she said. “Watching film, studying the defense in what they do in certain looks, in overloads, in trips. Just studying film and making sure I know exactly what I’m supposed to do. Looking at what their safeties are doing. Stuff like that to make sure the people around me trust me to be in that game and know what I know.”
And if Nixon does get the nod to start under center, Nevin has plenty of confidence that she’ll get the job done.
“I have total faith in her,” Nevin said. “She’s a football player, not a girl quarterback. She’s a great kid and we’d have full faith in her. She’s a true competitor and holds herself to a high standard.”