Marycecelia Pla's daughter Caroline (above, right) is 13 years old. She's been playing football since she was five. The Doylestown, Pennsylvania girl loves it so much that in 2011, she joined the Romans — The Junior Varsity Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) team organized under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Pennsylvania.
At the end of the 2012 season, however, the Archdiocese told Caroline she could no longer play football. She had never been injured, and had earned the respect of her teammates, just like anyone else would have.
An ABC report indicates the reason the Archdiocese finally seemed to settle on was a concern about "inappropriate touching."
Caroline decided to fight.
After pleading with the Archdiocese to no avail, Caroline and her mother took to Change.org with a petition to allow girls to play J.V. football.
They won that battle.
"At the direction of the Archbishop, the Archdiocese will allow for co-ed participation in CYO football, effective in the 2013 season,"ABC News quoted an Archdiocese official saying.
But the victory was short-lived.
Caroline's final season ended with the Romans winning the second of two back-to-back championships: A first in the league's 75-year history. That was also the year the Archdiocese reversed their decision.
Although she is now too old to play J.V. football, Caroline decried the decision in an editorial for The Huffington Post, realizing other girls who love the game will never have the chance to play in the CYO league.
"Playing [football] has reinforced values born from my faith — dignity, inclusiveness, community, discipline and respect," the 5 feet 4 inches offensive guard writes. "I was raised to believe that Catholic leaders would demonstrate these values to us. But recently, that hasn't been the case."
So now she's fighting again.
She's started another petition at Change.org. She knows she can make a difference.
"Through all of this," she wrote in The Huffington Post, "I learned that no matter who you are, how old you are, whether you're a boy or a girl, it doesn't matter. Everyone has a voice that can be heard; everyone can make a difference if they have the power of determination. If you love something enough to fight for it, then good things will happen. I need you to help me raise my voice so that more girls can follow in my footsteps."
She knows she can win. Let's help her out.
"...this isn't about Caroline," her petition says. "This is about girls around the country who want to play — and there are no shortage of those stories. Caroline wants to win this for them, so that girls today and tomorrow have the same opportunities that she did."