Lori Burchett(NEW YORK) -- Thirteen-year-old Rachel Eaves is not just the only girl on her school football team; she's also a team leader.
Last year as a seventh-grader, Rachel was the only girl on the Columbia Middle School football team in Grovetown, Georgia. And this year as an eighth-grader, she became one of the team's six captains, Coach Brian Atkins said.
Rachel has been playing football since the fifth-grade, her mother Lori Burchett said, ever since she saw the cheerleading and football registrations next to each other at an open house and decided on the latter.
Rachel made the middle school team in seventh-grade, Burchett said, while about 20 boys were cut. "We were excited," Burchett said. "It was validation that she was a pretty good football player, not just a novelty of being a girl."
Rachel, a fullback on offense and middle linebacker on defense, said the experience was scary at first because she was new to the school.
"I was the only girl there so it was just a little scary at first. But I got to meet everybody and then we were all really good friends," Rachel said.
"It helps a lot just with getting to know people," she added.
Coach Atkins said, "She's not a girl playing football; she's a football player that's a girl. She plays the game hard, she plays the game tough."
"If she didn't have her hair sticking out of her helmet, you probably wouldn't notice a whole lot of difference between her and the other guys. She plays just like the rest of them," Atkins added. And Atkins named Rachel one of the team's six captains this year.
Rachel was a little concerned at first. "I thought some people wouldn't respect me,” she said, “but there wasn't any issues.”
Making her a captain was never an issue for the coach.
"When she came to me in seventh-grade, she had already been playing in some of the youth groups," Atkins said. "So she knew a lot of the boys. She was very comfortable playing ... it wasn't like it was her first time playing football when she came to me.
"She's very much a vocal leader," Atkins added. "She tries not to be because she tries to kind of be quiet ... but she is very good at getting behind the boys and telling them what to do."
Others were equally effusive.
"Rachel is a wonderful student, athlete and person," Columbia Middle School Principal Eli Putnam said via email, calling her "a role model for our male and female students."
Rachel's mother credits football with helping her daughter's confidence.
"When she first started in fifth-grade, she was really shy ... it kind of helped her be more outspoken," Burchett said.
Rachel's time on the team, which she called a great experience, has now come to an end with the conclusion of the school football season. And Rachel says she’s undecided what she'll do about football when she reaches high school next year.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A dire infection that has left an NFL player facing possible amputation has highlighted the dangers professional players can face from drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or staph infection.
New York Giants tight end Daniel Fells reportedly faces a possible foot amputation after suffering a methicillin-resistant staph infection that stemmed from an injury to his ankle during practice a week ago.
The player reportedly had an ankle injury and then received a cortisone shot to help him heal. The player then reported a week of foot and ankle pain before being taken to the hospital with a fever on Oct. 2, according to NFL.com. He's now on an IV antibiotic treatment and has undergone five surgeries to help him recover from the infection.
Experts say the story highlights how athletes, especially those in contact sports, can face dangerous MRSA infections.
Dr. Buddy Creech, pediatric infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has worked with professional teams on how to clean up after a MRSA outbreak and has studied how both contact and non-contact athletes can develop the bacteria.
Creech was the co-author of a study looking at how 377 college athletes were affected by MRSA in both contact and non-contact sports.
"Contact sports participants, even more than non-contact sport participants, [were] at a much higher risk for colonization for MRSA," Creech explained. "Theoretically those players are also higher risk for infection."
At least 30 percent of the contact sport players showed evidence of colonization by MRSA bacteria at some point, three times as high as what would be seen in the general population, Creech said.
But colonized with the bacteria does not mean a person is infected, Creech noted, saying it just indicates a person could be more likely to develop the infection.
The theory is that athletes in contact sports are far more likely to have abrasions or injuries where the bacteria can invade into the body, Creech said.
The bacteria that cause a MRSA infection is a common kind of bacteria that often does not lead to infection, but that an open wound can be an easy entry point for the bacteria, Creech said.
In the case of Fells, Creech said there is a possibility that the cortisone shot -- or corticosteroid -- could have affected his immune system near the ankle wound.
If a particularly virulent strain of MRSA or staph bacteria is present in a team, officials can clean the locker room and have players take decontaminating baths to stop that particular strain. However, Creech said it is nearly impossible to completely stop any strain of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria from being present.
"This is a normal germ that we are encountering," he noted.
The key to stopping transmissions is to clean highly contaminated items, such as a trainer's table or towels used by a person with a staph infection, Creech said, noting that it is particularly dangerous for people to share razors since they can nick the skin and spread infection.
Todd Bennett/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's official: Steve Spurrier is out as South Carolina's head coach.
The 70-year-old formally announced his resignation at a press conference Tuesday. He had told his team about his decision Monday night, according to ESPN.
"It was only two years ago that we were fourth in the nation ... and somehow or another we've slid and it's my fault -- I'm responsible, I'm the head coach. And it's time for me to sort of get out of the way and let somebody else have a go at it," Spurrier said Tuesday.
So far this season, the Gamecocks are 2-4 and seventh in SEC East with an 0-4 record in the Southeastern Conference.
"I think the team needs to hear a new message, a new voice from another coach. And Shawn's going to do that, and I think he's going to do an outstanding job," Spurrier said, referring to Shawn Elliott, the team's co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, who has been named the interim coach.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images(BOSTON) — Superstar quarterback Tom Brady swears by his personal trainer and business partner, Alex Guerrero.
Brady credits Guerrero for helping to keep him on the field.
And the four-time Super Bowl champion is standing by his fitness guru, amid a Boston magazine report about Guerrero’s past, that the Federal Trade Commission sued Guerrero over his false claims about dietary supplements in an infomercial.
Guerrero falsely claimed in an infomercial that a product called Supreme Greens could cure or prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes, according to a 2004 complaint filed by the FTC.
“And now here’s the question: If I alkalize my body, am I going to come up with one of these chronic degenerative diseases?” the infomercial co-star asks Guerrero.
“No,” Guerrero says.
“Such as cancer, arthritis …”
“How can you say that so confidently?”
“I’m very confident in saying that, primarily because of the clinical studies we’ve done. I’ve seen it in my – in my – in my clinical practice. I’ve seen it every day in my clinical practice,” Guerrero says.
The FTC found there was no real evidence to support Guerrero’s product, something he admitted to ABC’s 20/20 in an April 2004 interview.
“No, there is no scientific support of Supreme Greens,” he said.
At the time, Guerrero told 20/20 that the production company behind the commercial twisted his words unfairly to make his vegetable supplement seem like a miracle pill.
Guerrero agreed to a settlement in 2005 that permanently prohibited him from pretending to be a doctor – or selling or distributing supplements that claim to “prevent, treat, or cure any disease.” Guerrero was also forced to pay $65,000 or hand over the title of his 2004 Cadillac Escalade ESV in the settlement.
But since that time, Guerrero has become one of Brady’s closest advisers, serving as godfather to Brady’s younger son, Ben.
The friends operate a sports therapy center, TB12, with its headquarters near Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots play.
Brady, 38, defended his friend in a Monday interview with WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan” program.
“I wouldn't be playing today if it weren't for what he's been able to accomplish with me,” Brady said.
Brady told WEEI that Guerrero’s holistic approach is the key to his success, which includes more than 400 career touchdown passes.
“Now you guys may think I'm full of crap, but the proof's what you see on the field,” Brady said.
Guerrero has not responded to ABC News’ requests for comment, and has not publicly responded after the release of the Boston magazine article.
Brady passed for 275 yards and two touchdowns, as well as a touchdown run, in New England’s 30-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday.
Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were not happy with how the "Contender Round" of the Sprint Cup Series' Chase began over the weekend.
Both believed that remnants of a Justin Allgaier oil spill on lap 182 during the race at Charlotte caused them to strike a wall.
Busch targeted NASCAR, sarcastically saying, "You can't pass anybody — it's a single-lane race track and then [a driver] put oil on the top lane [where we] to try to make anything happen and then you put yourself in the fence — so thanks to NASCAR for cleaning that up," ESPN.com reports.
"I've raced this [stuff] for 20 years," Earnhardt said. "I know what oil and [the absorbent] Speedi Dri is. We hit fluid, flew into the freaking wall hard. That's not Speedi Dri. There was oil up there....I hit the f***ing wall.
"I know I hit oil. I hit it. I promise. I'll argue with them all day long because I know I'm right."
A NASCAR executive said cleanup workers felt no oil in the area in question.
Busch is now 10th in the standings, Earnhardt 11th.
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Chase Utley was booed ahead of Monday night's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
Utley was suspended for games 3 and 4 of the NLDS after breaking Mets player Ruben Tejada's leg during a slide.
But Utley has appealed, making him eligible to play in Monday night's game.
Mets manager Terry Collins said he's a little surprised Utley isn't in the Dodgers starting lineup.
“The players association and my agent are handling the appeals process," Utley said in a statement on Monday. "I have nothing more to say other than to reiterate that I feel terrible about Ruben's injury. Now my teammates and I are focused on Game 3 and doing everything we can to win this series."
A source briefed on the situation told ABC News a hearing for Utley's appeal was highly unlikely on Monday. It's more likely Utley’s appeal will be heard sometime within the next two weeks to give each side time to pull videos and records, make a decision and issue a statement, the source told ABC News.
MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre said Sunday, "After thoroughly reviewing the play from all conceivable angles, I have concluded that Mr. Utley's action warrants discipline. While I sincerely believe that Mr. Utley had no intention of injuring Ruben Tejada, and was attempting to help his Club in a critical situation, I believe his slide was in violation of Official Baseball Rule 5.09 (a)(13), which is designed to protect fielders from precisely this type of rolling block that occurs away from the base."
Utley's agent, Joel Wolfe, called the two-game suspension "outrageous and completely unacceptable."
"Chase did what all players are taught to do in this situation — break up the double play," Wolfe said. "We routinely see plays at second base similar to this one that have not resulted in suspensions. Chase feels terrible about Ruben Tejada's injury and everyone who knows him knows that he would never intentionally hurt anybody."
The Mets support the suspension. "[We] feel this was the appropriate course of action. With this decision behind us, the team and our fans can now focus on playing winning baseball," the Mets said in a statement.
The Mets took game 3 over the Dodgers to lead the series 2-1.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here’s the latest scores and winners: AMERICAN LEAGUE Kansas City 9, Houston 6 Toronto 8, Texas 4 NATIONAL LEAGUE Chi Cubs 8, St. Louis 6 N-Y Mets 13, L.A. Dodgers 7 NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE Pittsburgh 24, San Diego 20 NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE Tampa Bay 6, Boston 3 N-Y Islanders 4, Winnipeg 2 Buffalo 4, Columbus 2 Philadelphia 1, Florida 0 SO- Vancouver 2, Anaheim 1
Eric Christian Smith/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Lots of Houston Astros fans are blaming Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for Monday night's loss against the Kansas City Royals.
When the Astros were leading 6-2 in the eighth inning, Abbott reportedly tweeted his congratulations to the team saying, "Congrats to the @astros on advancing to the ALCS!. Hoping for an all-Texas #ALCS. Looking at you @Rangers."
After the tweet was posted, the Royals ended up winning the game 9-6, and extending the series.
Abbott's tweet has since been deleted but #AbbottCurse became a trend on Twitter.
Sean Haffey/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — University of Southern California Football Coach Steve Sarkisian has been fired after he was asked to take a leave of absence.
The university first made the announcement after football practice Sunday when Coach Sarkisian had been asked to take a leave of absence by school officials who said it’s clear he is not healthy.
On Monday, the school announced they had decided to terminate Sarkisian, effective immediately.
Sarkisian first exhibited strange behavior this summer at a USC pep rally. The coach blamed a mixture of alcohol and painkillers for his odd conduct, which included slurred speech and even blurting out an expletive before telling the team “Fight on,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
After players said he showed up intoxicated to a practice this weekend, Sarkisian was asked to take an indefinite leave from coaching.
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said he determined the coach wasn’t healthy after speaking with him.
“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy,” Haden said, according to the LA Times. “I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence.”
One USC student is still hopeful about Sarkisian’s recovery.
“Here at USC, we say ‘fight on,’ and so, like that’s something that I know he’ll keep in mind though whatever he’s got to deal with personally, and what our boys are going to keep in mind as they transition with their new coach,” the student said.
Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will take over as interim coach for the 3-2 Trojans.