Black, female football coaches lead historic Chicago high school matchup
Written by Jackie Kostek
CHICAGO (CBS) – This week, history will be made in high school football.
Two Black women, who are head coaches of boys varsity teams, will go head-to-head in a Chicago Public League matchup at Gately Stadium on Thursday.
CBS 2's Jackie Kostek spoke to DuSable coach Konesha Rhea, who became the first Black woman to serve as a head coach for a CPS boys football team last year.
Rhea's heart has always been on the gridiron.
"Being five years old, playing in the corner lot of 157th and Lexington, whenever I went to go visit my aunt Vicky," she said.
Kostek: "What'd you love about the game then?"
"I got to hit people and didn't get in trouble," Rhea said.
But Rhea hit her first block in her own father, who didn't want her to play, but eventually let her manage a team. Rhea wouldn't get her first chance to play organized tackle football until her early 30s, when she made the Chicago Force, playing as a backup defensive tackle.
"I only played for two years," she said. "That very next year, the last regular season game before our championship game, I tore my ACL."
Her playing career ended abruptly, but Rhea would stay in the game, coaching youth football and eventually becoming the defensive coordinator at DuSable in 2019. Last year, Rhea made history as the first Black woman to serve as head coach of a Chicago Public League boys football team.
"I'm still like, 'Really?' I'm honored," she said. "I take great pride in it. Our theme for this year is pride. So I'm full of pride and I'm going to give my all to make sure I'm a great representation for the first, so that others know that they can do it too."
Already, there is another one doing it.
Jouscelyn Mayfield, who's a friend of Rhea's and this season became the head coach at Fenger High School. On Thursday, the two will go head to head in a historic matchup: two CPL football teams coached by Black women.
"I'm just excited to see another person that looks like me across the field and know that it's her first year," Rhea said. "I reached out to her and said, 'I don't care what question it is, just ask.' I didn't necessarily have that last year but I'm making sure you have that this year. When it's time, we're enemies for those 60 minutes but as soon as it's over, we're back friends and I'm still going to be one of your biggest cheerleaders and she said the same thing to me."
The two will take part in a historic matchup, even after they've both already made history.
If you want to check out the historic matchup, DuSable and Fenger will play Thursday afternoon at Gately Stadium. Kickoff is set for 4:15 p.m.