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Garretson High School’s First Female Football Player Makes Big First Impression

It was like a scene out of a movie. Junior Jenna VanHolland scored the game-winning point in overtime Friday against Viborg-Hurley.  

“I can't even explain how crazy it felt honestly,” she said. 

It was a night of firsts. VanHolland’s first time playing football, and the first time the Garretson Blue Dragons have had a female player. But VanHolland doesn’t think it’s a huge deal. 

“The boys on the team, they're really supportive and they take me in,” she said. “It's not like there's a huge difference between us. I'm part of the team and everybody's really supportive on the team. So it really doesn't feel that different, honestly.” 

Until last Friday, VanHolland didn’t think much about football. She’s a soccer player. But the Blue Dragons needed a kicker. Coach Chris Long said the team’s previous kicker graduated last year.  

“So, we were walking by the girls and I said to the soccer coach, I said, ‘Hey, we don't have any kickers, anybody out there for me,’ kind of mostly tongue in cheek. I thought it'd be a ‘haha, sorry,’” he said. “And she says, ‘Actually, we do have a couple girls that can kick.’ And so I said ‘Seriously?’ She says, ‘yeah,’ and I said, ‘If you guys want to try it, I'm coming back down in about 15 minutes.’” 

Long said a few soccer players tried out, but Jenna was the most consistent. But he was just happy to have a kicker, he could’ve never imagined the outcome. 

“If you literally said what could be the most poetic story of a young female deciding to kick for a football team, the very first game she's ever played in. I mean, to kick the game winning field goal and be rushed on the field because there's no time left. That's what happened,” he said. 

Long doesn’t know what this season will bring, but he’s excited.  

“It's really brought our kids together,” he said. “I mean, the boys and the girls are getting along and they support each other. The culture right now is pretty cool.” 

The Garretson Blue Dragons play the Hanson Beavers this Saturday at home.