When Howard High School’s football team hits the field this fall, you might notice something different.
The Huskies will have a girl on the team. Elizabeth Rodenroth is the team’s first female football player in the school’s history. She will be the team’s kicker and wear No. 17.
The 16-year-old has been playing sports since she was 5 years old. For two seasons now she has played on Howard’s soccer team, scoring 25 goals last season.
Rodenroth began kicking with the football team during the last week of May and participated in summer training.
It all began when the school’s kicker graduated, and head coach Paul Carroll was on the search for a replacement.
“I kind of snooped around and really figured out what we do have is a pretty good girls soccer team that made the playoffs last year. … Elizabeth was one of them that decided that she wanted to come out and try to kick a football,” Carroll said.
Rodenroth isn’t the first soccer player to make it on Howard’s football team, but she is the first girl.
“I was like why not, I guess, just kind of gave it a shot,” she said.
Rodenroth’s self-determination has contributed to her success in athletics.
“Her work ethic is unreal,” Carroll said. “She’s pretty competitive now, you can tell with her, and she can she can take hard coaching. And that’s how we coach here at Howard.”
Rodenroth has not received private kicking lessons but does get some help from last year’s kicker during practice. And while she weight trains for soccer, she hasn’t begun doing that for football yet.
“I want to get stronger. I don’t like not making (field goals), so I just have to get in the right mindset to not give up,” Rodenroth said.
Accommodations must be made at home and away games to provide Rodenroth with a separate dressing room, but other than that she’s just another player on the team.
“I’m gonna treat her just like a football player. If she doesn’t do right in the classroom, I’m gonna get on to her. If she don’t do right on that field, I’m gonna get on to her,” Carroll said.
Rodenroth said she has been building relationships with her teammates and feels like part of the family now.
“I’m just one of the boys,” she said. “That’s what it feels like. I don’t feel any different. It’s cool.”
Rodenroth’s acceptance by the team could be related to her skills and ability.
“If you kick it through the uprights, you’re going to be accepted. ... All she’s doing is doing her job, and her job is to kick it between the uprights, and she’s doing it,” Carroll said. “I’m gonna really know as a coach if she is able to kick that 42-yard field goal. As a coach I’ve got to put some pressure on her.”
The Howard Huskies’ first game of the season will be Aug. 16 against the Jones County Greyhounds, and you can expect to see Rodenroth kicking field goals and extra points on the field.
Rodenroth is not sure what playing on the football team means for her future athletic career yet.
“I know I want to play soccer in college, but if something happens for football I wouldn’t be opposed to it.”