Female Football Player Follows in Pro Brother's Footsteps

Jets rookie center Nick Mangold made his mark on the muddy high school football fields of Kettering, Ohio.

Now, five years later, another Mangold is following in his footsteps -- his younger sister, Holley.

Nick truly loved football -- just to watch him on the field was enough to inspire his sister to play.

If there was no Nick, though, certainly there would be no Holley playing football.

"It's probably real true that she saw how much fun I had and wanted to see if it was as fun for her as it was for me," Nick said.

Motivated by her big brother's success, Holley decided she wanted to play football before entering the second grade.

"I kind of told my parents that summer I wanted to do it, and my dad flipped. He did not want me to do it whatsoever," she said.

But Therese Mangold, Holley's mother, helped convince him.

"He and I had numerous discussions about her playing football, and he kept saying, 'But girls just don't play football,'" Therese said. "I said, 'Well maybe they don't, but this one can.'"

Nick was one of the best players ever to put on a football jersey at Archbishop Alter High School, and Holley envisioned her own varsity success.

"The first time we had a serious conversation was at Nick's graduation party, and she might have been in about the seventh or eighth grade at that point," said Ed Domsitz, the high school's head football coach. "I tried to encourage her to pursue a career in cheerleading."

Holley was not persuaded.

"I would always joke with him, 'No one wants to see me in a cheerleading skirt so don't even try it,'" she said.

Football has always been a comfortable arena for Holley, who stands 5 feet, 9 inches and weighs 310 pounds.

Holley said that some people couldn't see past her size.

"There are some people, and I just really feel sorry for you because I really could care less," she said. "If you looked at me just walking down the street, you would think, 'Wow. … She is probably out of breath just walking down to McDonald's where she is probably going to go to eat,' but I love proving that I actually can, that I do have muscle and I love to use it."

This year, Holley made Alter's varsity team.

On Aug. 25, she made history: Wearing No. 79, she became the first female to play a down from scrimmage in an Ohio Division III high school football game.

"It was definitely one of the high points of my football career," she said. "It was amazing just like anyone going on Friday nights under the lights."

Holley played in all 10 regular-season games this year, earning a varsity letter and the respect of her teammates.

As it turns out, football isn't even Holley's best sport.

Last winter, she set a national AAU women's record with a squat lift of 525 pounds.

In some minds, however -- perhaps even Holley's -- it will never be enough.

"I didn't want her to say, 'If I don't do this, I'm not as successful as Nick was,'" Nick said. "And that's something she doesn't need to be worried about. She needs to do her own thing and be successful in her own right."

Holley feels it's tough to live up to her brother's accomplishments.

"He has got everything going for him. He seems like the golden boy or the perfect child because … he went to Ohio State, he won, and now he's in the pros," she said. "It's just things that are almost impossible to live up to, so it's kind of hard to go in his footsteps."

She tries anyway, though, for the love of the game.

"I know I'm never going to be as good as him," she said. "I know that I'll probably never do the same things he's done, but I don't want to. I want to make my own path."