MARION, Ind. (WANE) — When Kaitlyn Lopez started high school, she promised herself she would always participate in a fall sport.
After her freshman year, Lopez got cut from the cheer team— making that promise more difficult to keep.
“I didn’t really want to play volleyball and I mean tryouts were already over so that was kind of out of the question, and then I mean I didn’t make the cheer team,” said Lopez. “So, I emailed Coach Adamson, asked him ‘hey, this is the situation, would this be a possibility?’”
“So, here I am,” said Lopez.
This season is Lopez’s third as a member of Eastbrook High School’s football team.
“I was very apprehensive when Kaitlyn contacted me and said that she wanted to do this. I really wasn’t sure exactly if she was interested or if she was just wanting to come out and prove a point because she got cut from cheerleading,” said Jeff Adamson, Eastbrook’s head football coach and assistant principal.
“We found out right away, it was much different than that,” said Adamson. “I think she put forth such a good effort that she was really accepted as part of the team, right from the very beginning so we knew it was going to be a good thing.”
Typically, when you hear of female football players, they’re either kickers or punters, which was originally Lopez’s plan.
“I was out here over the summer practicing kicking and everything else and I went to [Coach Adamson] one day I’m like, ‘this is not my thing I go I’m not good at it at all,’” said Lopez. “And he said ‘you know what, can you catch a ball?’ And I said ‘yeah I can learn.’”
Since then, on offense Lopez plays wide receiver and on defense she’s a corner back. Prior to joining the team, she had no experience playing football.
Lopez gets most of her playing time with the JV team, where she starts on special teams and offense.
However, Adamson said Lopez has gotten time in three varsity games this year and performed really well. He said Lopez’s biggest contribution to the team is her blocking on offense.
“We don’t throw the ball very often,” said Adamson. “She’s a very aggressive blocker very tenacious and kind of pesky, you know she won’t give up very easy.”
When Lopez started playing her sophomore year, she tucked her hair into her helmet so no one could tell she was a girl until she took her helmet off after the game. Now she leaves it out either in a ponytail or a braid.
Lopez said when she told her parents her plans of joining the team her mom was a little shocked but still supportive. Lopez said her dad, who played for Adamson at Eastbrook years ago, was “all for it.”
“The only consideration her parents wanted was to make sure that she was not treated any different from anyone else,” said Adamson.
According to Adamson, Lopez’s teammates couldn’t be more supportive of her.
“I think one of the neatest things that happens is when she has an opportunity to get in into the game. You see the whole team, watching her to see if she makes her blockers, if she makes a tackle on defense,” said Adamson. “She’s one of the players that everybody on the team really cheers for when she’s when she’s in.”
The highlight of Lopez’s football career so far was when she scored a two-point conversion against Frankton.
“I mean… honestly I ran the wrong route, but coach was like ‘you know what you got it,’” said Lopez with a laugh.
Last spring, Lopez actually tried out for the cheer team again and made it— so after football season, she plans to cheer at Eastbrook’s basketball games. After graduation, she plans to join to the Navy.