Elly Finch breaks barriers as an all-county offensive guard

High school football is often viewed as an all-boys club, with girls rarely playing physical positions. In Michigan, Elly Finch breaks norms.

Football is usually considered a male sport, so it can be ominous for the narrow-minded when a young woman is doing better than just about everyone else. On the rare occasions that a woman is in the field with men at the high school or college level, it’s usually a low-contact position. Some people still use fear of a player getting hurt to suggest this Football is not for women.

But there is another young star on the rise. Royal Oak High School in southeast Michigan can boast Elly Finch (Class of 2023), who is breaking records in all varsity sports but most notably on the Ravens varsity football team, where she will serve as captain in her upcoming senior season becomes.

Finch plays on both sides of the ball, and she’s perhaps the best weapon in Oakland County high school football. As a left guard and middle linebacker, she brings a lot of physicality to the field. She was named Royal Oak 2021’s Most Engaged Player, a varsity captain, and is considered one of the team’s most influential leaders.

“She directs our football team on a daily basis, by the way how they behave both on and off the football pitch [with] how she trains and challenges her teammates. She’s also a vocal leader, encouraging her teammates and challenging them when she feels they need that challenge,” head coach Dustin Truitt told FanSided, heaping on well-deserved praise. He added, “She consistently demonstrates the qualities we look for in a student athlete.”

Finch doesn’t just shine on the field or in the gym. Sure, she’s a starter on the girls’ college basketball team and holds the Royal Oak discus record, an All-State pitch in shot put, and multiple All-County track and field honors, but she’s also a 4.0 student who High school will graduate with 24 AP credits—or a semester and a half of college work already done.

So what does she plan to do when she hangs up her #55 Ravens jersey? Her coach believes she can do anything she puts her mind to.

As for Elly? She would like to eventually become an offensive line coach for a college or the NFL and maybe play in college if the opportunity arises.

The road to varsity captaincy is hard enough, but Finch has overcome adversity that no one else on the team has endured. Since her days playing pee-wee football in local recreational leagues, she has faced widespread sexism and doubt.

“My biggest opponent was probably the coach I had in 7th and 8th grade. Mind you, before that I played football for three years and started out on a team called the Royal Oak Chiefs for two years. my first year [on this new team] was all new coaches. He told me that I could never play high school football and that I was “too small”, “too weak” and that I would get injured and never play again. He broke my heart because my heart belonged to football and I couldn’t imagine losing it.”

Did Finch let her middle school coach trip her up? Absolutely not.

“I am grateful to him. First because I don’t think I would be that hard to do what I did without him constantly telling me I couldn’t do it. Now when someone tells me I can’t do something, I just look back at those years and I remember who I am now and what I’ve achieved and what I’m capable of.”

Photo credits: Royal Oak Public Schools and the Oakland Activities Association

The boys on her high school team have an enlightened approach when it comes to playing with a girl. In principle, the best player is allowed to win. And Elly Finch certainly does. Coach Truitt says, “They treat her like a captain and when she speaks, they listen,” and Elly knows that every one of her teammates would have her back if she ever needed it.

Finch has cemented her place in the Royal Oak football family but she wants to make sure she isn’t the last girl to play. She spends her summers volunteering at basketball and soccer youth camps and part-time working at a local pizza joint. As the school year begins, she will surely be breaking records and playing at a high level while academically battling for first place in her class.

When women enter a male-dominated space, those in power and those in established positions often feel intimidated, frightened, or threatened. Elly Finch is here to let other girls know that they can fight for what they deserve without having to worry about male comfort.

Finch will do anything to take what she deserves. She is perhaps the best two-way player in school history, an All-State field athlete, and a collegiate basketball player. She is one of the best students in her school and focuses on science and technology, which are often male-dominated.

Additionally, she has decided to take online sports management courses hoping to get a jump start on her career goals. She wants to be an NFL coach one day, but with only one Dozen coaches in the league, she must gain an advantage. The grim reality is that just being the best isn’t enough for her to break the glass ceiling – she has to show that she’s the best, most capable, most deserving, and most hard-working worker in the field.

She did all this before she could buy a beer, so what would make her slow down? Coach Truitt believes in her and with more than 700 snaps on both sides of the ball she will have plenty of time to prove herself at the highest level.

Finch and her ravens compete in the Oakland Activities Association. It’s worth noting that nine of the Michigan State Champion’s last 12 football games have featured an OAA team, but the Ravens have had limited success. Since the school’s inception 17 years ago, the varsity team has collectively amassed a 41-104 record. They’ve only had four seasons, most recently in 2018, and in four seasons the Ravens are without a win. Last year was Finch’s first season at varsity and Royal Oak went 2-7.

With an All-OAA nod in her junior year, it’s safe to say she should be one of the most dominant left guards and linebackers in the county this season, anchoring a defense that desperately needs help. Coach Truitt enters his first season at the helm of the Ravens football team and hopes he can be the guy to turn things around.

As Finch begins to navigate the college recruitment system, she will likely be inundated with offers from small local schools like Albion, Alma, Hope, Kalamazoo, and Northern Michigan. Because of her academics, she can reasonably attend any school she wants. Playing offense in college and excelling as an NCAA student athlete is a very different game than the Friday Night Lights, but Finch shows no doubt. If she wants it, she will go out and get it. The collegiate and pro leagues should keep Finch on their radar because she’s on her way, even if they’re not quite ready for her.

https://fansided.com/2022/09/13/elly-finch-breaks-barriers-football/ Elly Finch breaks barriers as an all-county offensive guard

John Verrall

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