Lincoln High School football player,
homecoming queen says role is 'Awesome'
Darby Lentz says she doesn't mind
being the only girl on the team
Monday October 24, 2005
Darby Lentz, 17, is serving double duty at her school near Shinnston. The student body named her homecoming queen. She's also the kicker on the football team.
Darby has converted an impressive 14 of 16 extra points this season. She has yet to attempt a field goal.
On Oct. 14, she had been on duty as the field goal kicker during the first two quarters of the game. At halftime, the homecoming court was announced, and she was surprised to hear her name. She accepted the honor in her football uniform.
"It was awesome," the brown-eyed senior said. "I didn't have a clue. It was awesome when they called my name."
She was also named prom queen earlier in the year at the more than 700-student school where she serves on student council and has a 3.8 grade point average.
It was during her junior year that she first considered joining the football team.
Friends who knew how well she kicked a soccer ball last year suggested she try kicking a football.
"The first time I kicked a football, it was a 35-yard field goal," she said. "The football coach asked if I would play."
With her senior year approaching, Darby decided it would be good to try new things.
"I'm the only girl, but it doesn't bother me," she said. "It's fun being around the guys. People have asked how the guys treat me. All have been really accepting. They pick on me sometimes, but if I needed them, they would be there."
She gets a little nervous before every game.
"I rely heavily on them," she said of her teammates. "There is a lot of pressure when I kick. I only got hit once. I was bumped in the ribs a little bit. The guys do a really good job of holding the line back.
"They yell at me before I kick," she said. "I get mental blocks, and they try to toughen me up. Once, they dumped a jug of water on me."
She doesn't worry too much about getting hurt.
"If I'm tackled, they tell me to fall," she said. "But usually, the refs would see it. There is a 15-yard penalty for roughing the kicker. They are not to hit me, but there is always a possibility."
Coach Jim Lopez is proud of Darby's accomplishments.
"She has been a very important part of the team," Lopez said. "She came out in the summer and immediately earned respect. She has done all the running drills the rest of the kids have done. She has been very pleasant to coach."
Darby said her family has been supportive of her decision to play football, including her parents, Jolyn and Tim Lentz, and her sister, Valerie, 21. Her mom is a homemaker who raises a large garden, and her father works in heating and air conditioning.
"My parents haven't missed a game," she said. "They have team shirts that say ‘Go Darby.' "
Darby's other interests are swimming and working at a horse farm. After graduation she intends to major in structural engineering at West Virginia University or Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh.
Jolyn Lentz is proud of her daughter's interest in football.
"I think it's awesome," she said. "My other daughter is working construction and going to college.
"Both do non-typical things for girls. I have always encouraged them not to limit themselves to what girls typically do and to follow their hearts."