By Michelle Poirier

Chloe Winterton, a grade 12 student at Newmarket’s Huron Heights Secondary School, made school board history last month, becoming the first female YRDSB student to win an OFSAA football championship.

Winterton, 17, a wide receiver, plays for the Huron Heights Warriors, who won the Golden Horseshoe Bowl in Windsor on November 28 with a decisive 37-2 win over Burlington’s Corpus Christi Longhorns.

“I’m very honoured; it’s never happened before, and I’m proud to say that I’m the first female player who has won a provincial football championship with YRDSB,” Winterton, who lives in Keswick, said.

Winterton said she’s wanted to play football since elementary school, but when she told her mom she wanted to try out for the Warriors, her mom was hesitant.

But that all changed after they reached out to Head Football Coach Heath Weir, who encouraged Chloe to try out.

Weir first met Chloe in 2019 when she attended a Skills and Drills Camp, which introduced grade 8 students to football.

“She came to that camp and was adamant about playing high school football,” Weir said.

“I told her, of course, you can come out for football, and she was like, are girls allowed to play? And I said, yeah, sure.”

Chloe (right) at the Golden Horseshoe Bowl in Windsor

Weir, who describes his senior team as co-ed, said although they had inquiries from female students in the past, they never had a female student join the team before Winterton.

Winterton, no stranger to football, played for the Warriors junior team, the York Region Lions, and the Team Ontario women’s team before joining the senior boy’s team.

“She came out and practiced with everyone and got into a game this year, catching a pass,” Weir said.

“She is the first female athlete to put up a stat in a Warriors football game, which is a big deal in the football world,” Weir said.

“Chloe was a valuable team member; she’s a great teammate. And we’ve enjoyed having her with us.”

While there have been some negative comments on social media, Winterton and Weir don’t see a problem with having a female player on a senior boy’s football team.

“I would say the bottom line is if they can play, then let them play,” Weir said.

“I respect people’s opinions on whether women should play football,” Winterton adds.

“But I’ve developed the toughness to play on a senior boy’s team and learned a lot throughout my four years of playing football.”

“I’m pretty confident in my abilities to hold my own on the football field, even if I’m the only girl there.”

Winterton, in her last year at Huron Heights, admits that though she would love to continue playing tackle football, there may not be many opportunities to play in the future, especially at the post-secondary level.

“I don’t want to make it seem easy, but I feel like I’ve had the best high school experience I could have had playing football, and I don’t regret it at all,” she said.

“It’s been a great experience for me, even in the hard parts; it’s made me a stronger woman and player because of it.”