Tristin Keller is a five-sport athlete at Mason High School in Texas, who recently made headlines after tweeting about her first varsity football start. Keller had been playing football since she was in third grade, so she was shocked to see how much of an impact her picture had on the sports world.
Decked out in purple with her long blonde braid peeking out of her helmet, Keller’s now-viral tweet received more than 3,000 retweets and more than 47,000 likes in the two weeks since she originally posted the picture. Many of the replies and mentions come from parents who have young girls who play football or aspire to play football just like Keller.
In an interview with GoodSport, Keller discusses her love for sports, her future as a Division 1 college basketball commit, and what the future for women in football can look like.
How does it feel in the aftermath since your tweet? People are reaching out to you and many have heard your story. Does it feel strange at all?
It feels a little strange I would say because it was unexpected. I wasn’t expecting it, especially the (direct messages) and the comments. They were awesome. … I had so many (DMs) that I was like ‘OK, I have to delete some of these so I can keep the ones that are most important or the people trying to contact me. But my reaction was just surprise.. But I mean it was awesome, so I’m super happy about it.
What are some of the differences between playing on a boys team and playing on a girl’s team? Could you see more women playing football at some point?
Boys are kind of different, like they are naturally more ‘mean’… They get more angry and stuff. …. You start to see more girls not being scared to be who they are, and do what they want. And so that’s where you start to see the girls like becoming more competitive, being more intense. … I’ve seen a lot of girls actually start to play football now. So that’s awesome.
Do you think there’s going to more girls in high school or locally, who after watching your story and seeing it unfold, might become interested in playing football?
I actually do think there might be a few. I can’t remember their names, but there are three little girls (who tell me) ‘I want to be a football player just like you,’ and their moms are (asking) me ‘Should she do it? Should she not?’ And I tell them if she really wants to, if she wants to go out there and she wants to him and she wants to do all that, just let her. If she loves it, don’t stop her from doing what she loves. Just let her keep going and have a good time … I would definitely say the younger girls to be more competitive in general at a younger age, so it’s awesome.
Obviously the future holds you playing basketball at Abilene Christian University, but have you thought about the future of maybe exploring coaching either basketball or football?
I’ve kind of thought about that more as this has come up. Honestly, I don’t even know what I want to do in college yet. My parents are coaches and I could see myself being a coach, maybe at the high school level, but probably more at the college level. … I’ve also thought about being a basketball coach, or even a football coach. … I love football, like, I love the X’s and O’s of football and all that. … I’ve just been thinking about the general thought of coaching, just anything of the sort.
In the next 10 years, do you think there’s going to be more girls playing football? Do you think there’s going to be more women who coach NFL teams?
Definitely, 100 percent. I even know it’s increasing as of right now. I would think, and I’m not sure when it would happen if it (did), but I think in the future there will be all girls leagues. Girls coaches for football will be regular. It’s just an evolutionary thing.
For anybody who has seen your story, do you have anything you would want to tell them?
For the younger kids, I would say to have fun. I was really competitive at a young age and sometimes I would get too caught up in the ‘I have to win’ mentality, you know, ‘if I don’t win, I don’t have a life.’ And now I still love winning and I’m all about winning, but you play the sport for fun. Don’t get too caught up in what you want, rather, focus on what is. For other people who want to play football, I say just go for it. If you go 100 percent, the outcome could be somewhat what you want, if not exactly what you want, so just do it 100 percent.
Photo Credit: Photos courtesy of Tristin Keller