Brow furrowed in concentration, Makenna Marshall ’18 dashed three yards to kick the football, sending it flying across the field and towards the goal post.
With one day left to change sports this fall, Marshall made the last-minute decision to venture into the male-dominated world of football when she heard her friends on the JV Football team saying that they needed a kicker.
“I guess they were half joking and half not, but it was the last day to switch sports so I just went for it… I wanted to try something new,” Marshall said.
Despite never having touched a football before arriving on campus, Marshall entertained the idea of playing football while practicing soccer as she saw many of her shots soaring through the football goal posts.
Marshall’s favorite part about playing football has been the camaraderie of her team.
“What I like best is hanging out with people who I normally don’t hang out with. After that first [away] game, we came back late, and [Paresky Commons] stayed open for us. We all sat down to eat, and people talked to me. Here I was, part of this team that I wasn’t used to,” said Marshall.
Marshall said she received an unexpectedly positive response from the Andover community regarding her position on the team.
“The best part is realizing [that] people will be nice and understanding no matter what you do. No one’s been like, ‘You play football?’ Everyone at Andover [has been] so accepting,” she said.
Marshall says she hopes that she can break down some barriers concerning the limitations of girls in sports.
“What can girls do physically? Because girls are differently shaped than guys and there is a point where sports are divided for that reason, I understand it… it all comes [down] to what we can do physically, but we should all get the same chances to try,” said Marshall.
Marshall is currently following both her newfound interest in football and her old passion for soccer as a member of Girls JV2 Soccer. She alternates between practices for the two sports.
Marshall hopes that she will not be asked to choose between her commitments to football and soccer, because, although she enjoys being a kicker for Football, soccer is her passion.
“That’s my scariest thought: that I’d have to stop playing soccer. Soccer is my first true love. I plan to continue playing it. If they let me carry on with football, I will. I’d love to still be on the team,” said Marshall.
According to Leon Modeste, Athletic Director, this rare allowance for an athlete to play two sports at once would not be possible if either sport were Varsity-level.
Marshall said one of her funniest experiences on the football team has been accidentally cheering for the wrong team after a touchdown.
“I forgot we were away and I heard people cheering so I thought it was for my team, so I was like ‘Go, go, touchdown!’ Everyone on my team just turns around and was like, ‘What?’ I felt so embarrassed!” she said.
She continued, “I pulled a Charlie Brown too. The snapper (the guy who holds the football in place) didn’t pull it away, but it was raining outside. Everyone was chanting, and I slipped. The ball didn’t even go through the field goal. It went the other direction, and I fell on my butt.”
Having never played football before, Marshall faced her first struggle alone in the girls’ locker room before her first practice.
“I did not know how to put my helmet on. There were these tin straps prohibiting me from putting it on without snapping it, and a bunch of the guys had to come over to direct me because I didn’t know what to do,” Marshall said.