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PLHS senior Rose trades pompoms for pigskin

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By Alonzo Garza
POST-REGISTER

Prairie Lea High School (PLHS) cheerleader Kasey Rose had an epiphany last year after playing in a powder puff game at the end of the school year. She found that tackling someone was just as exhilarating to do, as it was to watch.
The powder puff game made such an impression on Rose that she immediately went to Head Football C

oach Wayne Stigler and asked to be on the PLHS six-man football team.
“She came to me at the end of the school year and asked if I had a problem with her playing football and I said ‘no’,” Stigler said. “I don’t have a problem, I mean it is six-man. We don’t have 300-pound linemen. I have a daughter who plays goalie for Oklahoma State so I have no problem with girls playing rough sports.”
Stigler placed Rose on the team after being impressed with her seriousness and her dedication and discipline after making the team. It wasn’t long before Rose was knocking heads with the rest of the Indians and getting right back up after a tough tackle.
“Kasey has been knocked on her butt,” Stigler said. “I told her, we will treat you like a young lady, but we will train you like a football player. She has gotten the snot knocked out of her, but she has no quit to her.”
Rose had an opportunity to try on the shoulder pads and helmet for the first time in a real game situation on Friday, Aug. 29 when they played against Coolidge at Indian Field.
“This is the first year we have a girl in Varsity,” Stigler said. “She started last Friday night and her blocks were key to scoring two touchdowns. Coolidge started with 18 players. We only had nine and ended with six. The score was 18-18 at half time when injuries started. The final score was 69-24, but our kids played with heart. You know, she was a Varsity cheerleader last year. She went from pom poms to the gridiron.”
Although, the Yellow Jackets defeated the Indians 69-24, Rose was glad to have gone through the experience.
“Last Friday after we lost… I cried,” Rose said. “I cried with coach Stigler. He gave me a big hug and said we did a good job and played with all of our hearts and that is all that matters. I was nervous before the game. I couldn’t remember the plays because I was so nervous and my teammates told me not to worry about it. They were there for me. What I realized after our first game was that football is more than just hitting somebody. It is about taking care of your teammates.”
She fits right in with the team,” Stigler said. “Initially, the boys tested her and now she has their respect. She got some bruises, she got back up, she didn’t waiver, she didn’t complain. She more than earned her place on the team.”
During their first game against the Yellow Jackets, the Indians proved they could take a hit and give some back. Despite the loss, the Indians never gave up the fight. The Coolidge team was aware that there was a girl playing on the opposing team, but they did not know what number she was wearing. Rose took just as many hard hits as her teammates.
Most students at Prairie Lea High school are impressed with Rose and her first game performance.
“I think it’s pretty cool because it shows that not just boys can play football. Girls can do it too,” PLHS sophomore Nicole Plant said. “I play volleyball, but I’m not brave enough to get tackled.”
“It’s awesome! You don’t see a lot of girls playing football and to have someone like that at our school is really great,” PLHS sophomore Mercedes Newlon said. “I’m a cheerleader and I’m too scared to get hit. I’m happy just cheering her on.”
Of all the Prairie Lea Indian fans, it is Rose’s mother Kathy Haecker who is the most affected by her playing on the team.
“When Kasey first told me about joining the Varsity football team I said no,” Haecker said. “I didn’t want to see my daughter get hurt, but she is strong willed. Watching her stay committed to practice before school began and after seeing her play in her first game, Kasey has proven that she can do anything she puts her mind to. I am very proud to have her as my daughter.”
With her determination and unstoppable will, Rose is going places. She is a trailblazer and a role model for other young ladies who think outside the boundaries set by society. She is not afraid to take a hit. She is not afraid to try something unthinkable and more importantly, she does not know how to quit. She was certain her team could have taken the Yellow Jackets if they had had enough uninjured players.
The Prairie Lea Indians have a total of 12 players on their six-man team. They are freshman Jeremy Gonzales, sophomores Brandon Penny, Josh Wendel, Charleston Jackson and Dylan Batten, juniors Jerry Thompson, James Pardo, Edgar Olvera and Michael Schliesman, seniors John Cantrell, Vale Moreno and the only girl on the Indians team, Kasey Rose.
“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Rose said about her first game ever. “I wanted a rematch. Coach said we could have won if we didn’t have so many hurt players. I really hate that we lost our first game, but there’s more games to play. Coach told me that if I started this I had to finish, so I told him I would not quit. I will not let my teammates down. The pain only lasts for a little while, but being out there with my friends and experiencing the responsibilities, the discipline, sportsmanship and hardship of football is something that will last forever.”
agarza@post-register.com

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