Soccer player Angel Hines took her role as a “kicker” and gave it a new meaning.
In August, she made the decision to expand her skills from the soccer field to the football field of L.C. Bird High School, becoming the first female to make the team in the school’s history.
Defensive coordinator Matt Bland noticed Hines at a First Touch soccer event in which his daughter was playing. Bland invited Hines to try out, and she accepted.
Being a football player had new types of drills, physical tests and techniques, but Hines has been eager and ready for every task that’s put in front of her. Except maybe one, the bane of existence for most football players.
“There are these things called ‘chops,’” explained a smiling Hines. “I had no clue what they were the first day. And chops, well, they are really hard.”
Kicking a football comes with a different focus. With her new sport came concentration on new techniques.
“With a soccer ball, you don’t have to worry about making sure your form is correct, or leaning back, or leaning forward, you just kick it,” she said.
On top of a willingness to work hard and make adjustments, she’s been a welcome addition to the team.
“She’s probably the most improved player on our team,” L.C. Bird football coach Troy Taylor said. “She shows up to practice every day, works hard. We’re very proud of her and the job she’s done.”
While Hines enjoys her time on the field, one of her favorites times is Thursday team dinners, where teammates can spend time relieved of pressure while building bonds.
Hines has not only gained new skills and teammates, but a grand support system. She’s received nothing but support from her family, coaches, teams, and other female students at Bird.
“People have told me I have a lot of guts,” Hines said. “They’ve said that being the first girl to ever play for L.C. Bird football is a big deal, and people have called me an inspiration,” she continued. “It’s all been humbling, and I’m grateful for being a part of this.”
Now that she has accomplished this feat, others have taken notice.
“She came out, said she wanted to do it, she’s dedicated herself to it, and now she’s getting better … hopefully this stays and translates to success on the soccer field for her this spring,” L.C. Bird athletic director Greg Aiken said.
Aiken said other female students have come expressed an interest in playing. One has even taken a manager position on junior varsity in preparation to try out for the team next year.
“Come out of your comfort zone,” Hines said to other girls. “Do something that’s not the norm.”
Her support translated in a bigger way last Friday night. During the homecoming game – a 7-2 victory over Cosby – she was named homecoming queen by her peers. This is the first time in school history that both the homecoming king, linebacker Dominic Gray, and queen played on the football team.
It seemed fitting for a program that’s been accustomed to being the king of the gridiron: now the Skyhawks have a queen.