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GIRL MOVES CLOSER TOWARD GOAL OF PLAYING FOOTBALL

A Niagara County girl is one step closer to her dream of playing high-school football after her request for a physical examination was granted by Niagara Falls City School District officials.

Miranda DalPorto, 15, a sophomore at Niagara Catholic High School, will receive the sports physical Oct. 21 -- two weeks before Niagara Catholic's junior varsity team takes the field against St. Francis in the final game of the regular season.

If she passes the physical, she still faces a hearing before a special school committee, which will decide if she is eligible to be on the all-boy junior varsity team.

"I know I can do it," said Miranda, a softball pitcher who is 5 feet 4 and 125 pounds. "I'm not afraid of getting hurt; football looks like fun."

Niagara Catholic school officials could not be reached to comment Thursday night.

Board of Education officials in the Niagara Falls City School District Thursday night were informed of the decision to allow Miranda to obtain the sports physical exam by their district physician.

"The current situation concerning the female student athlete at Niagara Catholic is still being investigated through various state agencies," said Ralph Penale, district athletic director. ". . . Until a resolution is determined, arrangements will be made by our school district to provide the student athlete a sports physical."

Niagara Catholic's physician conducts sports exams twice yearly -- in summer and early next year, according to Don Marinucci, former football coach at the school. Team football physicals were conducted in August.

"If that's something she wants to do, all the more power to her," said Marinucci, who remains active in the football program as a parent. "I wouldn't want to see her get hurt, though. She has a lot to learn."

School requirements called for 17 practice sessions before a student athlete can take the field in a game. Miranda might not make the deadline, but she would definitely make the team because of a "no-cut" policy, according to Marinucci.

Brandon Singer, 15, a running back on the Niagara Catholic team, said he is pulling for Miranda.

"I played against girls before in Little Loop," Brandon said.

Jan Seel, Miranda's mother, just wants an answer for her daughter, who asked school officials for permission to play during the first week of September.

"I think it's unfair," Ms. Seel said. "She just wanted to be given a chance to go to practice and try."

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