Football has historically been a male sport, but in recent years young women have joined the boys on the pitch. One of these young women is Tegan Keil.
Ever since she was little, Keil has been an avid soccer player, swimmer and athlete, but she wanted to add another sport to her list. She had seen dozens of videos of different female soccer players across the country. When she saw the video of Vanderbilt football player Sarah Fuller performing as a kicker, the idea sprung up in Keil’s head to do the same and become a kicker.
According to Keil, it all started as a joke, then she got her first ball and tee for Christmas in 2020. She then went to a park near her house and started practicing kicking. After that day, Keil knew that becoming a kicker was no longer a joke but something serious that she wanted to pursue.
Keil officially joined the Mesquite varsity team as a sophomore in July. She worked hard in training and was determined to make her kicks go further and further.
“She’s a dedicated player who works hard every day,” said Mesquite head coach Scott Hare.
However, being a kicker, practices were usually away from the rest of the team.
“At first it was really hard for me, I was chewing off half my fingernails because of the stress,” Keil said. “Then I started talking to the guys, and now in the last game they were the most supportive people I’ve ever seen. I know they have my back and I feel like I have 50 big brothers.
Those 50 big brothers mentioned welcomed Keil with open arms.
“She’s a hard worker who doesn’t draw attention to herself and just wants to be part of the team, so she’s earned a lot of respect from me for the way she carries herself,” said Captain Andrew Morris.
Keil made his first start in Mesquite’s match against Gilbert on September 10 by making both of his kicks. Keil spoke of the difference between being on the pitch as something that “can only be described as standing there, padded, ready to go at that moment”.
Unfortunately, during Mesquite’s match against Combs on September 17, Keil was tackled after the snap and got pinned under a Combs player. An MRI on Tuesday confirmed she had a torn ACL and MCL in her left knee.
“At the moment, since the future of my game is unknown, I like to keep a positive mindset,” Keil said. “I’m not going to see this as a setback, just an opportunity to grow in other aspects of my athletic abilities.”
She is confident that despite her injury, the love and support she feels from her teammates will remain.
“I know that even though I’m not on the pitch with my boys, we’ll all support each other and that’s one of the best feelings,” she said. “It’s tough going down like this at the moment, but my recovery will be one for the books and I’ll come back and snatch the biggest basket I’ve gotten.”