As an Independence (Ore.) Central High junior this time last year, Reba Hoffman was preparing for her role as Belle in the school’s rendition of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” She’s gone from the spotlight on stage to the bright lights of Friday night.
While participating in Central’s annual powder puff game prior to the Panthers’ homecoming game in 2014, Hoffman discovered a love for the gridiron, according to the Polk County Itemizer-Observer. The passion hasn’t faded since, and she made Central’s varsity football team as a kicker and defensive back this fall.
“I never really liked football,” Hoffman said. “The last few years, I see that it’s interesting, I guess. I love high school games because I love being in the student section, but watching on TV has never been exciting for me.”
One of the state’s 10 best long jumpers as a freshman and sophomore and an all-league basketball player as a junior this past winter, Hoffman sought and received permission from Panthers football coach Shane Hedrick at the end of the 2014-15 school year to try out out for the football team as a senior, per the Itemizer-Observer.
Like most females who make their high school’s football team — or, at least, like Kathy Ireland’s character Lucy Draper in the 1991 film “Necessary Roughness” — she found a spot on the roster as a placekicker.
Unlike the cliched catcalls Draper faced on the fictional Texas State University Fightin’ Armadillos, Hoffman’s participation on the Panthers hasn’t been met with resistance from players or coaches. “There’s not a female issue there,” Hedrick told the Oregon paper. “She’s another player and we’ll go to battle with her every day.”
“Boys always talk about how it’s a family,” Hoffman said. “It’s really different. They’ve taken me in as a sister. They never put me down. They don’t put other people down. I feel the same acceptance and encouragement. It’s really nice.”
In fact, Hoffman has offered Hedrick more than he bargained for through five games. During Central’s 3-2 start to the season, she has recorded seven tackles — including two for losses — and a fumble recovery as a defensive back, in addition to making one of her two extra-point attempts, according to the team’s stat page.
That’s right: In one year, Hoffman has gone from being the Belle of the ball to finding her inner beast mode.