Kramer is ‘one of the guys’ on the field


Placing the ball on the 40 yard line, senior Veronica Kramer leads Utica’s varsity football kickoff against Fraser High School. The whistle blows, the kick is a line drive, the receiver rushes forward, passing players left and right — until Kramer tackles him.

She lunges forward and bowls the Fraser player out of bounds. The crowd and her teammates erupt in cheers. Whoever said girls couldn’t play football was wrong.

Coach Tony Smith awarded Kramer with the week’s “Hit Hammer” title, silencing any doubts that girls are too soft to play football. For the first time in Utica’s history, a girl led the team onto the field, wielding a sledgehammer in the air.

“I think, for Veronica, it’s a great experience,” physical education teacher Karyn Holmes said. “If she’s able to perform well, it shouldn’t matter if she’s male or female.”

The NFL recently had its first female coach join the Arizona Cardinals, Jen Welter, in July. Similar to Welter, Kramer wants to inspire other girls to play football, as well.

“I feel like a lot of girls are intimidated,” Kramer said. “They have a lot of doubts.”

Kramer, herself, had doubts when she first started playing, but she’s getting used to the game,

“I’ve only been practicing for a short time, but I’m starting to pick it up,” Kramer said. “The team’s really helping out, like I am family. They are always behind me.”

The boys on the team support Kramer when she needs it, and say it’s brought the team closer together.

“It was unexpected,” senior teammate Chase Prisza said. “She’s helped us become more of a team.”

Kramer decided to try out on a whim and a single kick. Varsity football coach Anthony Smith asked Kramer if she’d come out to practice and try to make a field goal.

“As a joke I thought I could be a kicker,” Kramer said. “I kicked a 25 yard field goal and I said, ‘sure why not?’”
Kramer looks to play other positions on the team in the future, paving the way for other girls in UCS to do the same.
“It would be pretty neat to be a receiver,” Kramer said.

Teachers realize what Kramer means to younger girls in the school, a symbol of equality on the field.
With a few games under her belt, Kramer has continued to turn heads, kicking the game-winning point in the final minute of the game against Anchor Bay.

“She’s a great athlete. She has a football mindset and can be aggressive. Those are intangibles you’re looking for in an athlete, and she has those,” Smith said. “She’s not afraid to go out there and kick an extra point or field goal to win a game. She’s not afraid, and she’s going to go out there and give her best.”