Radford High's only female football player focused on state championship

RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) - A Radford student athlete says you could always find them on the sidelines growing up, watching their older brother take the field.

Now, it's her turn.

The 16-year-old wide receiver is not just following in her brother's path - she's forging her own.

Apart from the ponytail hanging down her back, you can't really tell Ashley Burdette apart from her teammates.

And that's just the way she likes it.

"And like he came and he was like, 'you know I'm gonna have to treat you same as everybody else,' I was like, I hope so!" she said.

Burdette's talking about her coach who has taught her P-E class. She says she was the student who kept bugging him about getting on the team.

"The whole entire year I kinda like joked about it," Burdette said. "Then at the end I was like, uhh, I'm serious like, I'm actually gonna play."

The idea wasn't a pipe-dream. Burdette has been playing sports her whole life, most notably, basketball. She started playing when she was four years old.

She grew up watching her older brother Eric, a Radford High alumnus, from the sidelines. But that wasn't enough.

"I think one of my favorite parts of it is, not even part of the games or the practices or anything," she said. "It's just how serious everyone takes it. It's like when you're on a football team your whole entire week is built up to Friday night and like even after Friday night we come in Saturday morning 8:30 and watch film. And everything revolves around it and everyone knows what we gotta come in and do."

Her mom Debbie Burdette said she's excited to see what her strong-willed daughter can do.

"I feel like she knows she can do whatever she sets her mind to," mom Burdette said. "Work hard, good work ethic."

Ashley Burdette is a wide receiver and inside line backer. She's balancing placement on the team with her advanced placement classes.

"I'm proud of both of my children," Debbie Burdette said, "for you know having a go-after it attitude, and you know, they're positive."

Starting out, it was all about the game for the teen.

But now, Burdette's seeing her efforts go farther than the goal post.

"I was at the Christiansburg mall and like this little girl came up to me and she was like, 'I wanna play football!'" Burdette recalled. "And I was like oh my goodness... I guess I'm inspiring other people but I seen that little girl say that and it meant a lot."

It means a lot to a young woman who really is just like her teammates on and off the field.

"We always say if we don't want a state championship then you shouldn't be playing!"