On Thursday, while many of us gobbled up our Thanksgiving meals with friends and family, Natalie Randolph was making history at the 42nd annual Washington, D.C. Public Schools football championship game. Appointed head coach of the Coolidge High School Colts last March, Randolph was profiled on ESPN, had a citywide day declared in her honor, and is believed to be the only female head coach of a varsity high school football team. After finishing 4-7 last season, the Colts turned it around this year to 8-2 and a coveted spot in the Thanksgiving Day game—an amazing feat for a team that’s made it to the Turkey Bowl just one other time since 1987. Unfortunately, they lost 33-21 to Dunbar, a powerhouse team that has played in 12 of the last 13 games.
Though the Colts didn’t take the title this year, they achieved a winning season in more ways than one. Beyond the field, Randolph’s influence led to the improvement of the team’s cumulative GPA from 2.65 to 3.1, and junior Hasan Jenkins says that she’s made him into a better person, reports the Washington Post. All this from a 5’5” environmental science teacher—who was also a track star during her time at the University of Virginia, and a wide receiver for 5 years on the professional women’s football team, the D.C. Divas. With the support of the mayor, principal and fellow teachers, Natalie Randolph is making strides in inspiring excellence in athletics, academics, leadership and character for the 45 young men on her team—her biggest fans.
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