Charlotte Oxnam ’19 was a four-year member of the Saints girls varsity lacrosse team, but in her senior year, she decided to add a new sport to her "resume": football. Since St. Andrew's does not offer girls football, Charlotte was welcomed onto the boys varsity football team. Before her graduation in May 2019, Charlotte shared some of her experiences on the SAS gridiron, and some of her goals for the future.
I loved every minute of playing football this year, and my biggest regret is that I didn't join the team sooner. I knew I wanted to play football my freshman year, but it felt like too far of a bridge to cross, to be a new girl at school and join that team. I thought about playing sophomore year, but I just wasn’t in the fight. Junior year, I started my company and needed more free time, so I managed the football team. I was around them a lot, went to games, and worked out with them in the gym when they had training sessions, but I was not [playing] on the team. Then junior spring I said, "You know what? I only have one more season of sports at St. Andrew’s and I'm in strong enough shape to play football.”
I asked my parents, and they said no. They were afraid I was going to hurt myself, and they weren't sure how serious I was or how the team was going to receive me. But finally wore them down, and I got to play. My brother was also coming in [to St. Andrew's] as freshman and he was going to play football, so they couldn't tell the daughter no and the son yes. So I headed off to preseason with my brother in August, and I had an amazing season. We won the Cannon for the first time in my four years here. The team has some of the sweetest guys—they were really protective and supportive. I don't think I've felt as comfortable on any of my other sports teams at St. Andrew’s. It was the best team dynamic I've ever been part of in a school sport. I was also allowed to hit my brother for three months, which is crazy. We’ve been fighting my whole life, and everyone yells at me. Now Coach Moffitt is telling me that I'm not hitting him hard enough.
From day one Coach Moffitt treated me like any other athlete. He sat down with me ahead of time and asked, "What do you think your strengths are? Where do you want to play?" He said, "I'm going to push you just as much as I'm going to push any of the guys. There is nothing I'm going to do that is going to go easy on you, or that is going to give you a break. Are you ready for that?" He made it really clear from the beginning that he didn’t care that I was girl, and as a result, the team didn't care that I was a girl. I made it clear that I wanted to play and I wanted to be on the line. I wanted to be tackling people. They knew I was strong and had the ability to stick with it. Coach Moffitt just acted like I was any new student joining the football team.
A couple girls have asked me about playing football next year. I want as many people who want to play to play, but you have to be realistic in your goals, and you [have to make sure] that's safe for you? I would ask someone who was trying to play goalie in lacrosse the same questions, because it’s a space where someone could get hurt. You have to be willing to take risks and be willing to do what it takes to make those risks smaller. Hopefully girls will eventually become a staple of the football team. Every time I give a tour people ask, "Oh, there's a girl's football team?" And I say, "No, it's a boys’ team, but we're making it coed.”
My [St. Andrew's] little sister is playing baseball this spring, and I said to her, “Do what you love.” She had grown up around baseball, she felt stronger in it, and she believed she could excel. I said, “If that's how you feel, if you think you could be great, then you're hurting yourself by not giving it a chance.” Had it been a girl's team, she would have joined it in an instant. I think that was always my logic—had the gender role not been there, would I have joined the team? And she said, “Of course. That's where I wish I could be.” And I told her, “So do that. Do what you want to do, and don't care about who makes up the team."
The business I run is an online website focused on video chatting and language learning. The website allows students who are learning Spanish as a second language to speak with students their own age who speak Spanish as a first language, and to simulate an immersion language learning experience. Another goal is to get kids emotionally involved in the language learning process, so that they're more likely to stick with it, instead of taking a language in school just because it's required. [Building this business] has been a crazy learning experience. I hired a web developer at the end of my sophomore year. I was a 15-year old girl, and no one took me seriously. I had a few people flat out say, "No, we won't work on the project. There is no way you're legitimate." I finally found a developer and went through all the bumps and everything you go through in trying to get something started up. Now I am working on a lot of outreach with schools that might want to start it as a pilot program. The project is in a good place, and hopefully the site will launch early in my college career. I actually chose my college in part because it has a strong entrepreneurship program, so I'll have all of those resources when I head there in the fall.
Bioengineering is one of my favorite classes I've taken here. We're working on a design project right now where we used different dimensional roles to reverse-engineer all of the traits of an infant. How big would their arteries have to be? How fast would they breathe? What would their heart rate be reversed from an adult? We had to research all of the statistics of adults and apply a mathematical formula to reverse engineer an infant. We're also working on a challenge where we only have a piece of paper and a paper clip, and we have to keep in it the air for as long as possible. I'm excited. I show up every day and we learn something crazy and new. I'm not 100% sure how I'm going to apply [what I'm learning] to my life yet, but it will come in at some point.
My goal is to continue building my company and then sell it, and my ultimate goal would be to invent something in the engineering world that I could create to sell and go the entrepreneurship route. There is a lot more entrepreneurship in engineering than people realize. I think ideally I would create something really amazing and helpful to people, and then get to go sell it around the world, and transition to a business role.
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