Women’s professional football star on gender equality in the sport
By LA Stories Staff Inglewood
PUBLISHED 5:00 AM PT Feb. 21, 2022
As a little girl, Lois Cook did everything her older brother did — but her favorite thing to do with him? Play football.
In an interview for “LA Stories,” Cook tells host Giselle Fernandez she would outrun the neighborhood boys they played against every single time. When she got to high school, Cook asked if she could try out for the team and was quickly denied. Assuming her dreams of playing football were over, Cook joined the cheerleading squad to stay close to the game.
By the time college came around, Cook carried a football with her everywhere, and a local female football team coach took notice.
“He ended up recruiting me as the quarterback for Atlanta Leopards,” she said. “I had no idea that there was a women’s local team, a women’s league. I had no clue.”
After graduating, Cook returned home to Washington, where she immediately joined the D.C. Divas, a local female professional football team. She now dedicates her life to the game she loves so much.
But it’s not without struggle. In order for the women in the league to play football, they must pay fees for practice and equipment. If they have a travel game, they must provide their transportation and lodging.
Cook and her teammates are constantly fighting for some of the recognition that the men of the NFL receive.
“It’s no longer a man’s game,” she said. “We have something to contribute to the game, too. And when you take women, and you put them in sports, all you’re doing is enhancing it for everyone.”
Through social media, Cook has gained the attention of millions of viewers, many of them young girls aspiring to be like her. She created the Lois Cook Foundation to support and mentor girls who want to play football. She also caught the attention of the Got Milk? ad campaign.
During Super Bowl LVI, Cook and four other women were featured in national ads and on billboards surrounding SoFi Stadium. “There are giants among us,” the message read.
“When I see those words, especially next to my picture, I’m like, ‘Wow, someone sees us,’ and it means everything to me,” Cook said. “And I know it means everything to those little girls, too, who want to play.”