Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks) - Miranda Kenneally

for sara megibow

and all the other badass chicks out there Who ever knew throwing a perfect spiral would be simple compared to dealing with guys?

a hail mary and a harem

the count? 21 days until my trip to alabama once read that football was invented so people wouldn’t notice summer ending. But couldn’t wait for summer vacation to end.

couldn’t wait for football.

Football, dominator of fall—football, love of my life.

“Blue forty-two! Blue forty-two! Red seventeen!” yell. The cue is red seventeen. JJ hikes me the ball.

The defense is blitzing. JJ slams into freshman safety, knocking him to the ground. The rest of my offensive line destroys the defense. Nice. The field’s wide open, but my wide receiver isn’t where he’s supposed to be.

“What the hell, Higgins?” mutter to myself.

Dancing on my tiptoes, scan the end zone and find Sam Henry instead and hurl the ball. It flies through the air, perfect spiral, heading right where wanted it to go. He catches the ball, spikes it, and does this really stupid dance. Henry looks like freaking ballerina. With his thin frame and girly blond hair, he actually could be the star of the New York Ballet.

I’m gonna give him hell for his dance.

This is my senior year at Hundred Oaks High, and I’m captain, so I’m allowed to keep my players in line. Even though he’s my best friend, Henry has always been showoff. His antics get us penalties.

Through the speaker in my helmet, hear Coach Miller say, “Nice throw. This is your year, Woods. You’re 4

going to lead us to the state championship. can feel it…Hit the showers.” What the coach actually means?

know you’re not going to blow it in the final seconds of the championship game like you did last year.

And he’s right. can’t.

The University of Alabama called last week—on the first day of school—to tell me recruiter is coming to watch me play on Friday night. And then very

fancy-looking letter arrived, inviting me to visit campus in September. An official visit. If they like what they see, they’ll sign me in February.

can’t screw this season up.

pull my helmet off and grab bottle of Gatorade and my playbook. Most of the guys are already goofing off and heading over to watch cheerleading practice across the field, but ignore them and look up into the stands. spot Mom sitting with Carter’s dad, former NFL player. My dad isn’t here, of course. Asshole.

Lots of parents come to watch our practices because football is the big thing to do around here. Here being Franklin, Tennessee, home of the Hundred Oaks Red Raiders, eight-time state champions.

Mom always comes to practice—she’s been supporting me ever since Pop Warner youth football days, but sometimes she worries I’ll get hurt, even though the worst thing that’s ever happened was concussion. Sophomore year, when JJ took breather,

the coach brought in this idiot to play center, the idiot didn’t cover me, and got slammed hard.

Otherwise, I’m

rock. No knee problems, no

broken limbs.

Dad never comes to my practices and rarely 5

comes to games. People think it’s because he’s busy, because he’s Donovan Woods, the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Titans. But the truth is he doesn’t want me playing football. Why wouldn’t famous

quarterback want his kid to follow in the family footsteps? Well, he does. He loves that my brother, Mike,

junior in college, plays for the University of Tennessee and led his team to win at the Sugar Bowl last year. So what the hell is Dad’s problem with my playing ball?

I’m girl.

After chugging

bunch of Gatorade,

go find

Higgins, who’s already attempting to flirt with Kristen Markum, the most idiotic of cheerleaders. take Higgins aside, avoiding her Darth Vader stare, and say, “Next time try finishing your route instead of staring at Kristen, will you?”

His face goes all red before he nods. “Okay.”


Then go pull sophomore cornerback aside to speak privately. Duckett’s couple inches shorter than me, so put hand on his shoulder and walk him down the sideline.

“On that last play, where threw the long pass to Henry, you left him wide open. And know how fast he is, but you can’t let that happen in the game. You were totally out of position.”

Duckett drops his head and nods at me. “Got it, Woods.”pat hisbackwithmyplaybookas take another sip of Gatorade, and wipe the dribble from my mouth.

“Good. We’re counting on you Friday night. I’m sure Coach is going to start you.”


Duckett smiles as he puts his helmet under an arm and heads toward the locker room.

“Awesome job today, guys,” say to

couple of

my offensive linemen,