Published on Saturday, April 3, 2010 by The Norseman Staff
Some soccer players are getting their kicks in a different way this year – on the football team. One of these players, a senior, plays for the varsity football team, while the other is a girl – playing for the sophomore football team.
The two were recruited at the end of last year, as the football program faced a depletion of kickers across all the teams.
“We lost our two starters from last year – Rex & Matt, and all throughout the program we were kind of depleted in that area. So, we started looking. Went to the guys first and then to the girls second.” Coach Justin Matthys, the football department’s kicking coach, said.
While a girl playing for a typically all-boy team seems unconventional, Ana Meyer, the latest kicker for the sophomore team, is excited about it.
“It’s different. It’s fun. The guys all say that they have my back, so if someone hits me from the other team they say there’s going to be problems after the game,” Meyer said, “And the coach sometimes forgets to include me in stuff, but it’s still fun.”
As far as practice goes, the coaches haven’t modified routines for the new players.
“Kickers have always been a little different to work out anyway,” Coach Bob Bellard, director of the Athletic Department, said, “They just get their kicking in, and when they’re done, they go home.
When the new players joined the team, Coach Matthys said that they were welcomed.
For Ana, the warm welcome came as a bit of a surprise, from her new football teammates and her fellow soccer players.
“My soccer teammates, the girls, all think it’s amazing. They all call me their hero and stuff, which kind of surprises me, because I thought I’d get made fun of for being in football,” Meyer said, “Guys think it’s cool. One guy says that he had a lot more respect for me for playing football.”
Coach Bellard sees Ana’s acceptance as a result of her attitude and performance on the team.
“They’ve been very receptive. A lot of it has to do with the attitude of it. If you go out and be ‘Hey look at me I’m a girl’ and parade around like you’re showing off. It’s like a guy used to try out for cheerleader, a long time ago. It was a deal that was unheard of, so it was a shocking thing. If he goes out and is a good cheerleader, I think it’s a great deal. If he just goes out and is “hey look at me I’m going to be a joke in front of everybody”, then I don’t think it represents what it should. So, I think the kids have taken to it real well.” Bellard said.
While the team has been accepting of Ana, dealing with opposing teams has been a different problem to tackle.
“The ones when we play at home don’t really do much. Some won’t shake my hand after the game. They look at me, but won’t shake it. And then at the away games, we had issues with them yelling out the window of the bus asking for my number and stuff. So, sometimes they act kind of crazy.” Meyer said.
Dealing with the stress of being an only girl on the football team hasn’t been a problem in recent years.
“Is not stressful being the only girl, but it is stressful whenever a coach asks me to do something I’ve never done before,” Meyer said, “I feel like he’s putting me out in the spotlight or he’s throwing me out in the ocean to swim.”
For Kyle Wren, the new varsity kicker, football has been an enjoyable experience, even if it differs from his sport of choice.
“Yeah, it’s a lot different. I thought I’d be a lot better at it. But it’s way different,” Wren said.
So far, the coaches believe the kickers are doing a good job.
“They’ve been good, and they’re getting better. They’ve gotten their chances. And they did pretty good.” Bellard said.