The Fight for Girl’s Football at Herriman High


Sam Gordon Walks to the Field During Practice (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Last year, the Herriman High School girl’s football team went 6-2 and made it to the state championship. Despite their apparent success, funding from the school is grossly lacking, and they have no affiliation with Herriman High.


This means that the team had to find their coach and pay for all costs involved with playing. And many players echoed the same sentiment – they are not respected as equals to the boy’s football team.


Unlike girl’s football, the boy’s football team has been a part of the school since its founding in 2010. It has had several coaches paid for and hired by the school. And the boy’s football coaches and teams are undoubtedly highly respected by the administration and student body.


Brent Gordon, the founder and head coach of the girl’s Herriman High team, started the Utah Girls Tackle Football League in 2015 after a highlight reel of his daughter, Sam Gordon, went viral on YouTube. 


The Utah Girls Tackle Football League was one of the first all-female tackle football leagues in the country. The team was able to gather enough players and had multiple successful seasons. In 2017, Coach Gordon attempted to incorporate the team into the school but his request was denied. Coach Gordon then filed a lawsuit against Granite, Jordan, and Canyons school districts.  


The lawsuit was filed on the grounds of Title IX in June of 2017, the 45th anniversary of its enactment. 


Title IX is a federal law that states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 


Coach Gordon and the team were certain that the exclusion of girl’s football from district funding was a violation of Title IX. 


A federal judge entered judgement against the Jordan District, saying that they failed to comply with Title IX’s requirements to provide equal sporting opportunities for boys and girls. So, the Jordan District added girl’s wrestling and competitive cheerleading teams as a response. 


“It is clear that there are so many girls who want to play football; it was clear when there was a lawsuit; it was clear when so many girls showed so much support for us,” said Mia Backus, tight end/cornerback. “If we were boys fighting for this, we would have gotten it the second we asked,” she added. 


A poll by the school district surveyed approximately 7000 high school girls, and discovered that out of 32 sports, football was the 7th most popular. 


Football ranked above tennis, golf, cross country, swimming, and wrestling.


Coach Gordon’s lawsuit is currently under appeal, and The Utah Girls Tackle Football League is gearing up for its 8th season, with or without the school’s support. They continued to grow despite the lack of assistance from the district and fostered resilience when faced with discriminatory attitudes. 


“There’s girls from all around the world that would love for the chance to play football, but they don’t want to join the boys teams.” says Brielle Lambright, linebacker/running back. “If we get girl’s football into the high school, we can have other high schools from around the world do the same. Girls will finally feel comfortable enough to play football and not have a constant competition of trying to be as good as the boys, and that’s how it should be,” she concluded.