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Baldwin High School alum makes NFL history with Chicago Bears

This season, Doree Stephens will become the first African-American female to ever work in the Bears' equipment room.

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — This fall, one of Central Georgia’s own is making history in the National Football League.

For Doree Stephens, it’s about building on a passion that was first discovered at Baldwin High School.

“My dream was always to work in the NFL, but I just didn't know it was going to be this soon,” Stephens said.

Stephens has served as a basketball equipment manager at Baldwin High School and Gordon State College, as well as a football equipment manager at Georgia Southern University.

But now? Stephens will become the first African-American female to work in the Chicago Bears' equipment department beginning this season.

“I was just nosy,” Stephens said. “So I just always wanted to be behind the scenes of just, how is everything done. That's what took my attention. I just want to know how everything goes.”

That curiosity was first sparked at Baldwin, where she was a student manager, graduated in 2014, and then returned to volunteer as a manager for an additional four years.

“It's good to be at home, it's good to start from home,” Stephens said. “It brings back a lot of memories. For me just being over there, sitting behind the boys, cheering them on, yelling, acting like I was a coach.”

She might as well have been.

But Baldwin’s actual coach during that time, Rechard Larkin, also turned out to be Doree’s.

“He's more like a father figure to me,” Stephens said. “Even though I got yelled at a couple times because I wasn't doing stuff I was supposed to but it's okay.”

“A lot of times you see people's value the most after they leave and you discover how much they really did,” said Larkin, who coached the Braves boys’ basketball team from 2010 to 2015. “Practice time all I had to do was give Doree the keys and everything was taken care of.”

Doree left her mark at Baldwin, just like Baldwin left its mark on her.

And she now gets to grow into her first NFL season with another face from the 478.

Former Macon County Bulldog and Georgia Bulldog Roquan Smith is entering his fifth season with the Bears.

“I know Roquan, we speak a lot,” Stephens said. “That brought us together just to know that we come from small towns, and look at us now. We're doing it big.”

And while it's just an internship for now, Doree hopes that this year is about much more than just the job she does on the field.

“Women can do anything a man can do,” Stephens said. “I'm very determined about what I do. Nobody's going to knock me down.”

Doree now returns to Chicago where the Bears’ training camp will begin on July 26.

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