'Girls can play:' Twins turn heads on youth football team

Tackle football has traditionally been a boys' sport, but that's starting to change -- especially in Wisconsin.

A pair of sisters on the Mequon-Thiensville Cardinals youth football team is holding their own in the trenches.

Can you tell Shelbie and Jamie Klug apart? The 13-year-olds are identical twins.

"I still quite honestly haven’t figured it out," said Jared Crabbe, the Cardinals youth football coach. "Their personalities are very similar. The way they talk is very similar. The way they move is very similar."

Once they slip on their pads, there's only one wat to tell who's who. Jamie wears read cleats. Shelbie wears white cleats.

Shelbie and Jamie Klug

The Klugs aren't your typical pair of sisters. Jamie plays on the offensive line as a right tackle for Mequon-Thiensville. Shelbie plays on the defensive line.

"Lots of people are surprised. They’re like 'do you play tackle football?' And we are like, 'yes.' They are like, 'cool,'" said Jamie.

"Yeah, they are really surprised," Shelbie said.

The twins began playing football three years ago. Together, they've grown up in the Cardinals program, which is part of the Wisconsin All-American Youth Football League.
"It’s a really kinda special experience I think for their parents, for them, for me to be able to coach them through this experience," said Crabbe. 

Shelbie and Jamie Klug with their older brothers

The two followed in their older brothers' footsteps. Both were offensive linemen for the Cardinals when they were younger. But most importantly, their parents fully supported their dreams of playing tackle football.
"Well when we said we wanted to play football, they were like, 'are you sure you want to play football?' And we were, yeah." Jamie said.

"They were like, 'you are not going to get treated any different.' We were like, yep, we know," said Shelbie.

That's what they wanted. Anything the boys could do, they could do, too.
"Once you step onto the field and you put the pads on, got a helmet going...you are just another player on the team," Crabbe said. "There really isn't any different treatment they receive. Which I don’t think they want it any other way."

Shelbie and Jamie Klug

While there is a size and weight difference between Jamie and Shelbie and the seventh-grade boy that they face, that doesn't deter them from doing their jobs on the field.

"Last game I made a really good sack where the sideline could hear the sack, like hear the pop," said Shelbie.

Sometimes, the sisters will switch and play on opposite sides.

"If Jamie is going against a big guy on offense she can tell me that she is going against a big guy so I know what to expect," Shelbie said.

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With the Cardinals' season now over, the Klug twins will decide if they want to continue on next year, but they hope they've set an example on the field.
"I like it when we say that girls can play, because it shows that girls can play," said Jamie.

The Klug twins are proof of that.


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