"Yo, check this out! Dude's got on a skirt!"
Wolf whistles were common.
"I know you like to see me in it," George would reply.
All this would have been more bearable if Coach Evans had played him. Before games she would ask opposing coaches if they would mind if she let him play. Some did, some didn't. Either way, he didn't get in much. Some of the girls on the team liked George. They asked the coach to put him in, particularly when they were behind.
In a 1994 playoff game against Northeast High, Central was down by a goal in overtime when Coach Evans relented and put him in. George promptly scored, forcing a tie and, eventually, a penalty-stroke shoot-out that Central lost. (George watched from the bench.)
There was a tight group of starters who wanted to keep him sitting, but except for them, George says, he related to his teammates the same way he relates to guys. They would work on moves, critique opponents, second-guess the coach. Last year George and his pal Jen Mariani, also a junior, would sit on the bench and count the senior starters, figuring who would be gone the next season and what chances George and Jen would have to start. It looked pretty good for them both. This year Jen started pretty often, but George rode the pine through most of the season.
"It's the coach's decision," he said in October. "But I know it's because I'm a guy. I can play better than most of them."
Playing with girls didn't change anything about the way George thinks about them—"except, you know, I think I kind of see more of their bad side than most guys," he says. Which perhaps explains why his presence on the team didn't lead to any romance. Still, the question guys most often asked George was, "Do you, like, shower-with them?"
George would tell them yes.
A few things were different about playing with girls. After years of street play and rec-center basketball and football with boys, George didn't feel limber on the field until some trash got talked. In one game in which he was allowed to play, he loosed a little teasing and taunting on his opponents—"You know," he says, "baby stuff like, 'Come on, try and take it away' "—and the girls on the other team complained. Central's athletic director made a trip to practice the next week to warn George to knock it off.