Through the uprights

Freshman+kicker+Ella+Dement+prepares+to+kick+a+field+goal+in+practice.+She+is+the+only+girl+on+Granvilles+high+school+football+team.+%28PHOTO+COURTESY+OF+TREVOR+CRUMLEY%29

Freshman kicker Ella Dement prepares to kick a field goal in practice. She is the only girl on Granville’s high school football team. (PHOTO COURTESY OF TREVOR CRUMLEY)

Andrew Hoben

Girl kicker makes her mark on the gridiron

The high school offers over 20 boys’ and girls’ varsity sports across the fall, winter, and spring seasons. Football, a fall sport, has historically been comprised of an exclusively boys team, with no female playing football at the high school level in the school’s history. However, that standard has changed in the 2019 season, with freshman Ella Dement joining the Blue Aces football squad as a placekicker. 

Her football journey started years ago, when the idea of playing the male-dominated sport first piqued her interest, but the 2019 season will be her first actually being on a team. 

“I’ve wanted to play since I was little, but I just played soccer because that’s what most girls did,” Dement said. “This year, I decided I really wanted to play so I did.”

Along with soccer, Dement said that she played lacrosse and has done gymnastics in the past, as well as track and field, which she hopes to continue this spring at the high school level. 

Dement’s path to becoming a kicker on the football team was not an easy one, and in fact was not even her first choice as a position when she began practicing with the team. 

“I really wanted to be a linebacker because I wanted to hit people, but I’m small, so that didn’t really work out,” Dement said. 

She was then moved to receiver, but ultimately found a home at kicker, though she had never attempted to kick before she tried it at practice in the summer. She tried, and succeeded. 

“I found that kicking is what I was actually good at,” Dement said.

“Honestly, I was a little bit surprised when she showed up to practice because I had no prior knowledge of a girl being on the football team,” senior football captain Mitch Kunar said. 

However, now that she has been around the team since the summer, Kunar believes that she has earned the respect of the team. 

“She’s improved a lot, and I think she’s just like any other teammate,” Kunar said. “She’s paid her dues, worked hard, and is becoming a good football player.”

While fellow senior Joe Welsh was also surprised at first to see a girl playing football, he thinks of it as a positive.

“It’s kinda rare,” Welsh said, “but I was pretty happy to see the other sex getting involved.”

Being a girl in a game predominantly played, coached, and watched by men does come with challenges, that of which have become apparent to Dement in her first experience on a team. 

“At away games, changing is difficult because I don’t have a locker room or anything,” Dement said.

Not only are there logistical difficulties, but there has been an adjustment period for both Dement and the boy players in making her a part of the team. 

“It’s a little awkward, just going out and playing with all guys” Dement said. 

Senior Jimmy Fisher explained how her relationship with the team has grown as the season has gone on.

“At first, it might have seemed like she was excluded because she was new,” Fisher said, “but I feel like the people that she’s kicking with have incorporated her into the team and made her feel welcome.”

“It’s been a good thing for the program, and it shows diversity in the sport.”

Dement spent the preseason working on her kicking, and though she is just a freshman, earned the chance to kick an extra-point at the varsity scrimmage against John Glenn when the regular starter was inactive. She made the field goal, becoming the first girl in Granville history to score a point at the high school level. Dement loved the experience.

“It was really exciting, and a lot of fun,” Dement said, “I was really nervous.”

In the Blue Aces week one junior varsity game, Dement made an extra point. When asked whether she is excited for the rest of the season, her response was summed up in a single word:

“Extremely.”

The Blue Aces varsity squad travels to Clear Fork on Friday with a 7:00 kickoff, and the junior varsity will be home at 10:00 Saturday morning.