Tours Travel

A kicker with a ponytail

A tomboy at heart with her hair pulled back, Spotsylvania High School graduate Lauren Luttrell has her sights set on becoming a kicker for the Virginia Tech Hokies and, if that comes to fruition, the first woman to join to the college football team. Luttrell played football for the Spotsy Knights, but his passion for sports and his athleticism made him a kicker for a varsity football team.

Last summer, before arriving on the Virginia Tech campus as a freshman, Luttrell’s supervisor at Famous Dave’s BBQ, David Turner, was intrigued by her desire and encouraged her to try out for the Virginia Tech team as a chaperone. Luttrell thought he was crazy, but Turner insisted, and before you knew it, Luttrell contacted the Hokies football department and they invited him to try out.

Luttrell showed up at Lane Stadium during his first week of school and saw head coach Frank Beamer standing on the field. There were a handful of kickers, a few punters and a few long snappers in the test. She was the only one with a ponytail, but once she started kicking, her nervousness subsided and she fit right in. She only failed once during training. While Beamer was impressed, he didn’t have a spot for Luttrell and asked him to try again in the spring.

Training for a second chance that winter, Luttrell worked diligently with his kicking coach, Dave DeArmas, who attended training camps with the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers after playing college football at the University of Connecticut. Aside from practice and technique, DeArmas taught him things like the difference between the wind at the bottom of a two- or three-tier stadium and the wind blowing over the flag poles above the stadium. He took pictures of his form and showed him what he needed to fix.

Luttrell is quite comfortable kicking field goals inside 42 yards, but he’s unfamiliar with a helmet and pads, not to mention the pressure of a game-winning kick in a stadium packed with cheering fans. Gaining experience in the true atmosphere comes with time invested.

Clearly, the Hokies needed a kicker. Redshirt sophomore Cody Journell was suspended indefinitely after being arrested for breaking and entering and was charged with a Class 2 felony due to alleged use of a dangerous weapon. Before the Hokies’ Orange Bowl game against Michigan, senior kicker Tyler Weiss, a graduate of Courtland High School, was sent home for missing the curveball.

As a walk-on and one of ten kickers, Luttrell’s next test occurred on March 31. He made all four field goal attempts at the 20-25 yard range kicking his way to the second round at the 35-yard range making three of four attempts with one not hitting the crossbar and therefore not advancing to the third round. Impressed with his ability, trainer Frank Beamer thanked her for trying, encouraged her to keep trying, and explained that he just didn’t have the power to make the cut. Luttrell, discouraged, promised to keep kicking his goal; a goal to nail him between two posts, particularly at Lane Stadium at Virginia Tech, as a kicker for the Hokies.

If Luttrell had been part of the team, the media frenzy would begin. How could a young woman, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail, keep up and perform at the level expected in a “man’s” sport? Luttrell’s kicks on the field would definitely draw attention to the team both favorably by some and undoubtedly derisive by others. Although the social sacrifices and other possible ramifications for Luttrell to participate in a sport dominated by men are many; the benefits, if used well, can be relatively rewarding.

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