110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Jen Horton
posted Jan 21, 2014 - 12:25:26pm
Bethany Blazetic was 8 when she told her dad she wanted to play football.
A former middle- and high-school football coach, Dennis Blazetic decided to come out of retirement to coach his daughter in a boys’ flag-football league.
Bethany thrived in the competitive environment. She also plays club volleyball and is an honor-roll student.
"She's such a good athlete," Dennis Blazetic said.
Bethany's mom, Sonja Blazetic, posted a video of Bethany playing football on Youtube. It prompted a response from overseas.
"The International Flag Football Association in Norway called my wife," Dennis Blazetic said. "They asked questions about Bethany, and a month later they invited her to the tournament."
The tournament is the 23rd Kelly McGillis Classic International Women's and Girls Flag Football Championship & World Challenge in Key West.
Organizers invited the 12-year-old Delandite to be grand marshal.
Bethany will be the youngest junior grand marshal of the worldwide tournament, ever. She will share the spotlight with Top Gun actress Kelly McGillis, for whom the tournament is named. Bethany will also play.
"She will be playing with, and against, players from all over the world," Dennis Blazetic said.
Bethany talked about playing a sport that's not traditionally associated with girls.
"You have to be aggressive," she said.
In fact, to prove themselves, Bethany said, she said girls have to be more aggressive than boys on a football field.
She is the team captain of her flag football team, whose 10 members include two girls.
Everyone on the team gets along, and each person earns respect from his or her peers, Bethany said. But, she added, "You should hear the parents."
When a guy is getting beaten by a girl, on the football field, the parents get vocal from the sidelines, Bethany said.
"It makes me laugh, and, it makes me proud," she said.
Bethany and her family headed to Key West for the weeklong tournament Jan. 20-27.
The teams, which will be eight-on-eight, will practice for three days, followed by a day of preparation and festivities, including a parade. On Friday, the games start, and the International championship will be played Monday, Jan. 27.
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