FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Kam Warner wanted to see if she could do it.
She wanted to know what it would be like to put on pads. She wanted to know what it would be like to take a handoff and dive into the defense. She wanted to play football.
So, in 2000 she tried out for the Seattle Warbirds, a women’s full-contact football league.
“I was just trying out, seeing if I could do it,” Warner said. “I had always wanted to play football, tackle football.”
Once she started playing running back, the community corrections officer for the Washington State Department of Corrections realized she had a knack for hitting a hole.
“She’s a beast,” said her son, Chico McClatcher, a sophomore at Federal Way (Wash.) High School, who also plays running back.
A single mother, Warner brought McClatcher to her workouts. As he got older, and the team needed extra practice players, he would fill in.
“We have done this little football thing for a while now together,” said Warner, who spent the last two seasons with the Seattle Mist in the Lingerie Football League. “I want to say that sparked his interest, but probably not.”
When it comes to football, it isn’t often mother and son share the same field, let alone the same position.
“Me and my mom are two different runners,” McClatcher said. “She’s a beast and I’m just a speedy guy who likes to outrun his opponents.”
McClatcher said his mother first signed him up for football when he was in fourth grade. He admitted he “was a little scared at first.”
Through the first few practices, though, he realized it wasn’t difficult for him to outrun other players.
“As soon as they gave me the ball, I started running to the outside, showed my speed,” McClatcher said. “No one could catch me on the field.”
Now, as he prepares for his sophomore season, opponents still can’t catch the running back. As a freshman in 2011, he rushed for 370 yards and three touchdowns on 46 carries. He caught four passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. He proved he could play at a high level at a young age, catching the attention of college coaches.
“I certainly think the sky is the limit for him,” Federal Way coach John Meagher said. “He is certainly going to continue to progress. You really worry about a kid who is physically mature beyond his years when they show up and they’re 15 and they don’t grow anymore. That’s not the case with Chico. He’s got room to grow, there’s no doubt about that.”
At Washington’s Rising Stars Camp in June, McClatcher ran a 40-yard dash timed between 4.41 and 4.42 seconds.
“It’s his ability to go from 0-60 so fast,” Meagher said. “He is at top speed within a few footsteps.”
He has the speed, vision and elusiveness coaches covet, with a frame that will fill out as he gets older. Despite the early attention, McClatcher remains humble. He credits his success to his teammates.
“He’s just having fun,” Meagher said. “He’s a high school kid. That’s the way it should be.”
While McClatcher’s career is in its early stages, his mother is putting hers in the past so she can focus on her son. After two seasons in the Lingerie Football League, Warner is ready to retire.
She wants to make sure McClatcher is as focused in the classroom as he is on the field while he works toward earning a Division I scholarship.
“He loves it so much,” Warner said. “It’s his life. I just want him to keep that in perspective. This is something that may not always be there for him. Of course, like any mom, you want him to always believe there’s some other plan he’s got for his future, but as long as this is what he wants the most, I’m definitely going to make sure he has all the tools he needs to take it to whatever next level he wants to.”
One day, when it is time to decide where he will attend school, he hopes to have offers from Washington and Oregon. He wants to stay close to home, not far from his friends and family.
Until that time comes, his plan is simple. Like his mother, he wants to prove he can play.
“I just want to keep my grades up, do well at my running back spot and just ball out,” he said.