Garretson High School football debuts first ever female player in 2021 season

Local News

GARRETSON, SD (KELO) — It’s an exciting time of year for families, athletes and coaches: the high school football season kicks off Friday in KELOLAND. Each time the Garretson High School football team scores a touchdown this season, the coaching staff will call upon a new recruit, who’s never played the game before, to kick the extra point.

Friday’s Blue Dragons game against Viborg-Hurley is one right foot away from making history.

This is the time of year when high school players step out of the shadows and into the glare of Friday night lights, including 16-year-old junior Jenna Van Holland, of Garretson.

“It’s kind of nerve-wracking, but I’m really excited to get started,” Jenna said.

Jenna has played soccer all of her life. So when the football team needed to fill the vacant position of placekicker, they called on members of the girls soccer team to try out.

“Some of the boys needed help kicking and we had lost our old kicker last year because he was a senior, so they asked some of the soccer girls to try out and I kind of ended up being the best fit on the team, so I’m a kicker now,” Jenna said.

A kicker who’s the first girl to ever play football for Garretson.

“She’s our kicker because she’s a great kicker. It’s not a novelty thing for us. It’s not that because we thought this would be fun. It was evident from the beginning that she was our best option and she was head and shoulders our best kicker,” Head Football Coach Chris Long says.

Jenna practices soccer every day and is on the football field up to three times a week, kicking the ball a half-hour each session. Good!

Jenna consistently drilled 35 yard field goals during this practice: a feat that has gained the respect and admiration of her teammates.

“Every single time I get out there, they tell me that they got my back, so it’s been really good so far,” Jenna said.

Having Jenna’s back includes protecting her in case a bad snap on the point-after attempt leads to a scramble for the ball.

“If they lose the ball, my plan is just to run straight off, so, yeah, try to avoid being tackled as much as possible,” Jenna said.

Jenna embraces the idea of being a role model to others girls and show them they, too, can attain lofty goals if they have determination and talent, to-boot.

“Kind of set a model, I guess, for younger girls, let them know that they can do this, too,” Jenna said.

Jenna hopes to continue playing soccer when she goes to college. But she says her football career will end with high school graduation.

In Jenna’s high school football debut on Friday, junior Jenna Van Holland’s extra point would give Garretson the 43-42 win over Viborg-Hurley.

You can watch the game-winning field goal here.

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