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Dinwiddie senior Cheyenne Wray is passionate about football: ‘This is what I love to do’

DINWIDDIE, Va. - When he became a high school football coach nearly 30 years ago, Dinwiddie's Billy Mills learned quickly that the biggest key to success - for any team - was the play of the lines, both offensive and defensive. Specifically, the play of his offensive lines with the Generals has helped the team win 66 games and counting over the past six seasons, including a state title.

"We treat our o-linemen very good for a reason," Mills said. "They don't ever get their picture in the paper. They rarely get on TV. We know how important those guys are."

"You don't get a lot of credit with everybody else, but within the team, you get a lot of credit," added senior lineman Jacob Edwards.  "The whole line. You just have to be selfless."

It takes a special kind of player to earn a spot on any team, especially one with Dinwiddie's pedigree.

And being a special player is not gender specific.

Cheyenne Wray is the lone female on this year's Dinwiddie roster.

"I've always loved the sport," Wray said.  "I've never really been good at any other sport besides this one. One day I just decided to try out and see if it worked for me and it did."

She has been playing football since middle school, when her spur of the moment decision caused a bit of a stir.

"My middle school coach called me up when she was in 8th grade and said 'We've got a young girl that has signed up to play. What should I do?' And I said, 'Well, I guess, coach her up,'" Mills recalled.

"I have a lot of passion for it," Wray added. "I've grown that passion with a great leader like Coach Mills. He gives you that passion and that dedication."

Where most girls find a spot as the kicker on a football roster, Cheyenne is actually listed on both the offensive and defensive lines. She found a specific role as one of the team's long snappers, brought in on punts and kicking plays and has been challenging the starter for playing time.

"She's good at it!" Edwards said. "She's better than he is and he's the starting center."

If anyone is uncomfortable about having a girl around the team, they've kept it to themselves.

"It never really bothered me," Edwards said.  "I don't care who you are, gender, race, religion, none of that. If you can play football, then come play."

Cheyenne has gotten some funny looks and questions from her friends about why she would willingly put herself through all of the practices and workouts. But she's never missed any of it, striving to be treated the same as any of her teammates.

"The standard is the standard for everybody," Mills said.  "Doesn't matter if you're a girl or a boy. I'm gonna treat you just like I do everybody else."

"She's been one of our Iron Men, or Iron Women I guess."

"If they take it easy on me, I'm not going to be taken seriously," Wray explained. "I'm going to give it my best and I want them to give their best so we're all together on this. I'm a teammate, not just an extra."

Cheyenne is also a member of Dinwiddie's Leadership Council, a group of players who apply for the position. They are admitted on the strength of their grades, attendance, and community service and are responsible for 5-10 teammates as a captain. Cheyenne has been on the Council each of the past two seasons.

"All the aspects of it, she's been one of the top eight both years," Mills said.

"It's 2018. Girls can do whatever they want to do," Wray added. "Guys can do whatever they want to do. I'm going to do this because this is what I love to do."

"They [her friends] will ask me, 'Do you think I could do it?' And I'm like 'Of course you can. If you set your mind to it, you're gonna do it."

Cheyenne also throws the shot put and discus on the Dinwiddie track team, and has moved her football workouts to mornings to avoid conflicts with afternoon track meets. The Generals closed out their regular season with a 35-0 win over Colonial Heights.

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