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by Bill Tope

D. L. Voigt wanted more than anything
To play on the neighborhood's fifth grade
Football squad.  It wasn't an official team,
Just the students who attended the local
Elementary school and lived in the same part
Of town.
But they scorned D. L.'s participation, insisting
That Voigt was too small.  True enough, D. L.,
Though a gifted athlete, was by far the slightest
Child in the fifth grade.  Just now the prospective
Athlete was approaching Billy Tubs' driveway,
Where footballers were clustered round a
Collection of weight-lifting equipment.  As D. L.
Neared the home, several classmates hooted.
"Get out of here, Voigt," snarled Billy, who was
Something of a bully.  "I want to play football,"
Rejoined D. L.  "D. L. can really run, Billy," said
Danny, a secret ally of D. L.'s.  "Voigt's too little,"
Growled Billy scornfully.  One tackle and the
Twerp's dead," he opined.
"Voigt's strong too," insisted Danny defensively.
"Prove it," snapped Billy.  "How?" asked D. L.
"Lift this here weight," challenged Billy, putting
One of his big feet atop a barbell that must have
Weighed at least a hundred pounds and was far
Heavier than anything that any team member could
Lift.  "That's not fair, Billy," protested Danny.  "No
Fifth grader could lift it."  "Voigt lifts the weight
Then the twerp plays," proclaimed Bill
"Step back," cried D. L., who approached the
Barbell determinedly, knelt, fitted fifth grade
Hands about the bar and in one swift movement
Cleaned the bar to shoulder height.  Then, taking
A single step back, then forward, pressed the
Tremendous weight overhead.
"Way to go, D. L,," shouted some of the children.
Even Billy Tubs was impressed.  "Nice one, Voigt,"
He mumbled, conceding the victory.  "A deal's a
Deal," he remarked.  "You start in the backfield
Today."  And so it was that Deborah Louise Voigt--
D. L. to her friends--crashed through yet another
Glass ceiling, this one leading to gender parity in
The rough and tumble world of fifth grade
Sandlot football.