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They are the same age, grew up in neighboring towns and are complete opposites. But in the recently released movie, The Longshots, Keke Palmer and Jasmine Plummer are the same. Palmer plays the real life Plummer, a then-11-year-old girl from south suburba

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They are the same age, grew up in neighboring towns and are complete opposites. But in the recently released movie, "The Longshots," Keke Palmer and Jasmine Plummer are the same.

Palmer plays the real life Plummer, a then-11-year-old girl from south suburban Harvey who blazed the trail as the first female quarterback for a junior Pop Warner football team. She catapulted the team, which had a losing record, to championship heights.

An avid sports fan, Plummer, 15, said she never thought her time on the football field with the Harvey Colts would interest those who didn’t know her, let alone be the subject of a movie.

“I love sports, and I just enjoy what I do. I was always taught to go after what I wanted and to be the best I could be. To me, it was just me doing what I loved and having fun with it,” Plummer, who now lives in Joliet, told the Defender.

Soon the hype grew, game after game, once she hit the field.

Her uncle, who was also her coach, started getting calls from industry executives about doing a movie based on Jasmine. He turned down a few offers before accepting "The Longshots."

Plummer says at first she didn’t think Palmer would be able to pull off portraying her. “She looks too much like a girly girl. But when she pulled back her arm, I was convinced. She can throw a ball. I was very happy that she plays me. She did a great job. I can’t see anyone else playing me like she did,” Plummer said, laughing.

Palmer, 15, is a native of south suburban Robbins, a short distance from Harvey.

The two officially met during the filming of the movie.

Palmer found information about Plummer on MySpace, she said at a recent advanced screening of the movie at the ICE Theaters on 87th Street.

Palmer said once she read the script and found out it was based on a true story, she was sold. The added bonus was Plummer being from the same area where she grew up.

“The story is truly inspirational, and Jasmine did her thing. While I like sports but really can’t play football or basketball, I like that Jasmine didn’t let anything or anyone stop her from doing it. Once you set your mind to doing something, you must keep going,” Palmer told the Defender.

Palmer said she also describes herself as a girly girl, but she has tomboyish qualities as well. She likes volleyball and Double Dutch, and was told that she has big hands, so gripping a basketball should be a natural for her. She is not thoroughly convinced about big hands and excelling at basketball but said if it’s something she has to master, she is ready. If she is faced with a task, she tackles it head on and succeeds, Palmer said about learning how to play football.

She trained for one month before filming started in Minden, Louisiana.

Plummer no longer plays football. Once she became a teenager, her mother decided that the game should go back to being a boys-only sport.

The Joliet West High School sophomore is a varsity player on the girl’s basketball team and is also on the track team. She plans to become an athletic trainer and a WNBA player.

Palmer and Plummer said the best advice they could give to their peers and those younger is to always go for the gold and be “better than the boys.”

“My advice is to just do what you believe in and be the best. Be better than the boys. Just follow your heart,” Plummer said.

Palmer’s opinion is similar.

“Whatever you set your mind to, whether it’s art, singing or sports, just be the very best at it. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do it. Always let them know, and show them, that you can. Keep your eyes on the prize,” Palmer said.

Kathy Chaney can be reached at kchaney@chicagodefender.com.

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