Dennis Milanovich never thought he’d be a football parent. He has two daughters.
“It’s a surprise,” Milanovich said. “But it’s great.”
His youngest, Ellington High School sophomore, Caroline, surprised both of her parents this past summer when she told them she’d signed up to play JV football.
“I mean, he told me that I probably shouldn’t, but whatever,” Caroline Milanovich said about her dad’s reaction.
A head shorter than everyone else on the field, Caroline is Ellington football’s newest wide receiver.
“So football is a big thing in my family and I’ve always been around it,” said Caroline. “I don’t know, I just kind of got in on the fun.”
It really was that easy. Caroline said she asked the coach if she could play and that was it - although, she did have one condition.
“I went and I told the coach, I said, ‘I won’t kick at all,’” said Caroline.
According to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, about 45 girls played high school football last season in the state. Though most girls get involve don special teams, primarily as kickers, which keeps them out of most of the contact. Not Caroline.
"I love getting hit,” said Caroline. “It's so much fun."
She likes to hit back, too.
"Even sometimes now, a few games into the season, people will say, 'oh are you wearing your boyfriends jersey for the game?' and I say no, I'm playing, see you at the game,” said Caroline.
Now, Dennis finds himself in the stands at a game he never thought he’d be at, but it’s one that's teaching lessons he's glad his daughter will learn.
"It's about respect,” said Dennis. “It's about giving yourself to something that's bigger than you and that's really who she is."
The bigger picture for Caroline: playing so that one day her story isn’t so unique.
"If I can have one freshman girl come on this team and say ‘hey I want to do this,’ that would be amazing,” said Caroline. “Just to have a young girl see that she can do this too."