Elly Gorham: From rugby to varsity football kicker

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Elly Gorham: From rugby to varsity football kicker

Julia Napier, Staff Writer

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Hayfield football has always had strong, competitive teams, dedicated players, great coaches and a multitude of loyal fans. On Friday nights, swarms of spectators covered head to toe in spirit wear venture to the football field to watch high school boys throw, catch, run and tackle in an attempt to inch that much closer to a state championship. Only now, there is a girl among their ranks. Freshman Elly Gorham has become a prominent member of the varsity football team as kicker.

“I decided to try out as a kicker for the football team this summer. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to until I started practicing with the other kickers,” Gorham said. “It was kind of awkward at first but once I got used to the routine and became friends with some of the other players and managers I was more comfortable.”

Gorham grew up playing for the Springfield Youth Club West End girl’s rugby team. Playing rugby has been, and always will be, a passion for her, and it was on her rugby team where she learned to drop kick the ball. She had always wanted to play a high school sport, but since so few high schools have competitive rugby teams, she didn’t have an opportunity to represent Hayfield as an athlete.

When Gorham was encouraged to tryout as a kicker for the football team, she was excited that she would finally be able play a high school sponsored sport.All her years playing rugby made the transition to football much easier, along with the unyielding support of her family and friends.

“I really love kicking for my rugby team, so when Coach Drickey suggested I try kicking for the football team, I thought it would be a good opportunity to play a sport for my high school since rugby is not a high school sport. Gorham said, “It is cool to be a part of a team, so the transition from rugby to football hasn’t been that hard, and the support from the hype squad has been awesome.”

So many schools encourage inclusive environments, yet so few girls dare to break the social norm and give football a try. If girls began playing at a young age, more teams would encourage co-ed environments, and the separation between male and female sports would gradually lessen.
Gorham believes that predominantly male sports don’t have to be governed by the idea that girls shouldn’t be participating. She is breaking that stereotype every varsity football game, but Gorham believes that one girl isn’t necessarily enough.

“I think it would be great if more girls played, but only if it’s something they want to do. It was kind of lonely the first week of practice because I didn’t really know anyone, and it was kind of intimidating being the only girl. If there were other girls on the team, we could have instantly supported each other. I hope if someone is thinking of playing they might look at me and see that it’s possible and give it a try,” Gorham said.

Gorham’s support has been overwhelming, with hundreds of people coming out to see her play on Friday nights. Many believe she has done a phenomenal job as kicker, and the school has been accepting of her, as she has made Hayfield’s varsity football team stronger and more competitive in the new conference.

“Whenever I have a bad game, I worry that people might think I shouldn’t be playing a male sport, but everyone is so supportive, and I am having so much fun. I am very grateful that Coach Henderson and Coach Drickey have given me the opportunity to be a part of the team,” Gorham said. “All the support from my friends and my family, along with the amazing hype squad that chants my name makes me so happy and gives me all of the confidence I need.”