Another young lady will be on the gridiron this year in DeKalb County.
Seventh grader Katie Retzlaff will suit up for Druid Hills Middle School as wide receiver. Retzlaff, 12, said this is the first time she has ever played tackle football. She played flag football when she was 7 years old.
“I just like football,” Retzlaff said. “It’s interesting and I just like to play. Tackle football is more fun.”
Druid Hills Middle football coach Tyrone Beverly said this isn’t the first time he has coached a girl. He had a girl play for him when he was the head coach at Champion Middle School. She then went on to play at Arabia Mountain High School.
“When Katie first asked me to play, I was apprehensive,” Beverly said. “It made me think back when I had a girl to play for me. She was very intense, and I said I will give her a chance. Maybe [Retzlaff] will be like the same girl.”
Retzlaff said she wanted to try out for safety, but when coaches saw her pass catching skills, they made her a wide receiver. Beverly said she is impressive in her route running as well.
“She runs her pass routes so precisely,” he said. “The boys are struggling on their routes. She’s always in the right place at the right time.
“When we played 7-on-7 football during the summer, other teams were shocked,” Beverly said. “They were so shocked that they had two [defensive players] trying to cover her. She’s going to make a lot of noise this year.”
Retzlaff said after she joined the team, some of her teammates made fun of her, but others treated her as if she’s one of the guys. Beverly said he does not treat Retzlaff any differently than the way he treats boys.
“I’m harder on her because her mother said that she can take it,” he said. “I’m harder on her because I want her to be better. I don’t want her to take herself for granted.”
Retzlaff said she hopes more girls will gain an interest in playing football after seeing her play, but right now, her goal is to win.
“I want to score a lot of touchdowns [and] help win games,” she said.
“I think she will be great this season,” Beverly said.
DeKalb County middle school football kicks off Aug. 24. Druid Hills will face Henderson Middle School at Adams Stadium at 10 a.m.