Cleat Geeks

Women of Sports: Rachael Evans

– Feature Photo by Steven Hiser

Welcome to Texas, where High School football is king. Throughout the state, communities eat, sleep, and breathe football. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area stands Godley High School, the alma mater of Rachael Evans. Rachael is currently a Minnesota West Community and Technical College student and also the placekicker for the Bluejay Football team.

Rachael’s football journey began at Godley High School. The summer going into her junior year, she attended several kicking camps – conditioning herself for tryouts to earn a spot on the varsity football team. With hard work and perseverance, she became the first female to play High School football in the state of Texas earning All-Johnson County and All-District Honors along the way.

2013 Godley All Johnson county football selections

2013 Godley All-Johnson County Football Selections

Rachael also became the first female selected to play in the North Texas Bowl/DFW East-West Classic All-Star game where she was perfect on extra-point attempts. Her performance in that game and throughout her career ultimately landed her where she is today. Rachael has been the starting placekicker for the past two years at Minnesota West. In addition to academics and football, she also plays volleyball and softball.

Photo by Daily Globe

Rachael is now approaching the end of her second year, and with Minnesota West only being a 2 year program, she is now making decisions for her future; academically and athletically. Over the weekend I asked Rachael the following questions about her football career and future plans:

Q: Your athletic career started on the soccer field, but since Godley High School didn’t have a soccer program, you decided football was the closest you could get. You began as a trainer for the football team. When the other kicker graduated, the coaches jokingly asked you if you knew how to kick a football. After a while, the jokes became reality, and you found yourself going out after practice and kicking field goals. Soon after that, you went to kicking camps like Baylor and Kicking Nation to improve your distance and accuracy before ultimately trying out for the Wildcats. What were your next steps to getting on the team?
A: The next step was morning workouts. I wanted to get the respect from the team, so that’s when I really committed to doing this. I made a point to show up every morning at 6:30, and put in the work just like everyone else. Then the decision that I was no longer going to continue playing volleyball or basketball for the school because it would take away from scheduled practices and games.

Q: In Texas, football is everything. Was it difficult to get your coaches and teammates to see past gender and respect you as a football player?
A: Yes, my first year was very rough. I was not accepted by everyone. I had to deal with rumors started by some underclassmen, who thought they deserved to play varsity over me, and then a few dads also made it a point to make me feel very unwelcomed on the team. The coaches got over it when they saw that I was committed to playing and actually pretty decent at kicking a football. They cracked jokes, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

Q: You were the kicker on the football team your junior and senior years. During your senior season at Godley, your kicking game was solid, helping the Wildcats advance to the Class 2A playoffs. You earned All-Johnson County and All-District Honors that year, and then became the first female to be selected for and to play in a Texas High School, All-Star football game. Kicking for the West Team in the North American All-Star Game, you ended the game perfect on extra-point attempts. What was your favorite moment from your senior season at Godley High School?
A: I don’t think I could choose just one moment. One was definitely when we were the underdogs going into the second round of the playoffs and we totally upset the other team. I remember it being freezing cold outside and pouring down rain the whole game. Everyone was absolutely miserable, but that’s when we really played like a team, encouraged everyone, and lifted each other up. Then after the game everyone ran onto the field and cheered and yelled. It was just awesome. Another moment was when I got selected for the All-County team. I had worked so hard the past two seasons and it was just the icing on the cake.

Q: At the All-Star game, you realized that playing at the collegiate level was an option for you. After that game, you got picked up by a recruiter, who started having tons of colleges contact you interested in you coming to play football for them. Having a lot of options, you finally picked Minnesota West because of their good agriculture program. What was it like, going into college knowing that everyone in the town was expecting you and basically knew your life story?
A: It was SUPER awkward! Like everyone was basically telling me my life story and I didn’t even know their name [laughs].

Q: At Minnesota West do you only play Minnesota teams, or do you get to travel?
A: We do a lot of traveling! I’ve played in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and of course Minnesota.

Q: You were quoted in the Cleburne Times-Review saying, “The goal was to make it to the collegiate level, but I always had people and some coaches telling me that it’s completely different from high school ball and that I wouldn’t make it. So, of course, that was my motivation to push through to become a college athlete, but I did it for myself, too. I loved high school football and I didn’t want to be done with it forever.” What do you tell girls who ask you for advice when it comes to playing football?
A: First you need to learn to be strong-willed and independent. I’ve seen girls go into this for the attention that they will get, instead of for the love of the game. In those cases they don’t work as hard and I feel like almost just become a team distraction. You have to learn to not be intimidated by boys/men. If they see you’re scared, then it’s going to be hard because they will push you around. To finish I’d tell them that if they aren’t going to be dedicated then don’t go into this. You’ve got to put in the work just like everyone else. It’s going to be hard, people may talk, but in the end it’s worth it.

Photo by Daily Globe

Q: Is football at the college level noticeably different from high school as a kicker? Are practices harder? Expectations higher?
A: Honestly I would say it’s about the same. It doesn’t help that I played high school football in Texas, so I feel like it was way more intense than other states with football.

Q: Any tips or advice for student-athletes looking to play at the next level as far as balancing academics and athletics?
A: [laughs] Well, invest in a planner to schedule your life! You’re going to have to schedule your time wisely for practices, classes, food, sleep, and if your lucky, friends outside of sports.

Q: What’s your range?
A: It changes with leg day. [laughs]

Q: What is your locker room situation like?
A: You learn to love bathrooms.

Q: Have you ever had to deal with anything a male football player has never had to deal with?
A: [Laughs] Uhmm guys don’t have to worry about playing on their periods . . . TMI I’m sure lol. And of course the lack of locker rooms.

Q: Describe a typical practice?
A: Run our laps and stretch, then do some speed and conditioning. The team will then split up into positions and then the other kicker and I will go through all of our kicking exercises and routines. After that, we kind of just hang out then at the end. When we go teams I’ll signal the plays into the QB.

Q: How do you train in the off-season?
A: Well, I played other sports at Minnesota West to keep in shape, but also weight lifting and kicking in a net a few times a week when I have time.

Q: What is your favorite college football moment so far?
A: Winning 2 season games my sophomore year due to kicking.

Q: Do you have any pregame rituals? Any superstitions?
A: Nope, in Minnesota or wherever we were playing I was always just trying to get and stay warm.

Q: What is playing on your headphones?
A: Texas Country and Rock-N-Roll.

Q: Who gets the most credit for where you are today in life?
A: God and my high school coaches – especially my head coach at Godley, Coach Brawner, for giving me a backbone!

Q: Highlight your favorite moments from the 2015 season?
A: I loved all the traveling to different states and getting to play at different stadiums.

Photo by Daily Globe

Photo by Daily Globe

Q: What is your outlook for next season?
A: To continue playing at a 4 year college.

Q: Do you have a favorite quote?
A: “Aspire to Inspire before you Expire!” ― Eugene Bell Jr.

Q: Minnesota West is a 2-year school. What do you plan to do next? Academically? Athletically?
A: I’m not sure what I want to do academically, yet. I’ve been considering coaching and athletic training, or physical therapy. Athletically try to get to the next level.

Q: Would you like to kick at a bigger school?
A: Yes, I’d love to kick at SDSU (South Dakota State University).

Q: Have any schools shown any interest in having you kick for them once you are finished at West?
A: Yes, I’ve had plenty of schools show interest, but I’ve had to rule out some due to the fact that they didn’t have what I wanted to study.

Follow Rachael on Instagram.

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