KILLEEN, Texas — Imagine a typical night at a Central Texas football game. You'll hear fans in the stands, pads popping, and the whistle blowing in between plays. That all happens at Palo Alto Middle School, but if you look at the sideline, one thing is different.
You'll see a female football coach.
Alexus Dukes has made history as the first female football coach in Killeen ISD. Having played college basketball at the University of Texas, San Antonio, Dukes was originally hired by the school as the boys basketball coach. But after losing one of their football coaches, that all changed.
"She's a good person and she's just a nice coach. She's tough. She can handle the people," Luis O'Farrill, an 8th grade center, said.
That's what almost every player was thinking after Alexus Dukes took over the sideline for the eighth grade football team.
She may have never played football -- but athleticism runs in her blood. Dukes knew she was stepping into a role that would come with its challenges. But she was pleasantly surprised by the way she instantly fit into that spot on the sideline.
"Honestly, I thought they weren't going to be receptive but they were. I did have to show them something. I can throw the ball. I can catch the ball. So I was a little competitive with them," Alexus Dukes, Palo Alto Middle School head football coach, said. "But that first day they were very respectful and treated me just like a male figure."
She has now been with the squad for two years. Writing up plays and giving pre game pep talks to a group of boys became a new lifestyle.
She never looked back.
"After my first year working with just boys. I have this thing where I don't even want to work with girls," Dukes said. "The boys are just so receptive and it was fun for me."
Dukes isn't the only woman on that sideline. With 10 brothers, Kaylie Sneed is used to being in a male dominated sport. She holds her own in the trenches but every now and then, she enjoys having some feminine energy.
"I's better having a girl because we can do one on one talks instead of, you know, having all male coaches," Kaylie Sneed, 8th grade linebacker, said.
All male coaches is the current reality.
"We're in a mans world but we're gonna do what we're supposed to do," Dukes said.
Alexus Dukes is changing that norm.
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