By Darryl Gangloff
Kendall Giltz ’23 made Hotchkiss history on Saturday night, Nov. 5, under the lights on Sprole Field. When her kick sailed through the goalpost, she entered the record books as the first girl to score a point in a varsity football game.
The stars aligned to make this a memorable moment for Kendall. “It’s something I can tell my kids,” she said with a smile. It was Senior Night against Kent, and Kendall kicked an extra point to tie the game (see the action in the video below). “Everyone on the sidelines was cheering and going crazy,” she remembers. The Bearcats carried that energy to a 13-7 victory. “It was a surreal experience running off the field with the guys. The team is so positive.”
“I think the excitement from the crowd and the sideline tells you everything you need to know about that moment,” said Dempsey Quinn, head varsity football coach. “I am just so happy for Kendall, knowing that to my knowledge she was doing something that had never been done before at Hotchkiss, and to succeed in such a clutch moment was a very proud moment for me as a coach, and I hope for her as an athlete.”
Coach Quinn is the reason Kendall joined the varsity football team. Sports have always played a big role in Kendall’s life since she arrived at Hotchkiss as a prep. She plays varsity hockey and lacrosse, and previously was a member of the varsity soccer team. When she decided to look for something new, Quinn suggested last spring that she pursue a role as football kicker. “I didn’t think he was being serious at first,” she laughed. “But once we talked about it more, I considered it all summer.”
Elisabeth "Barbs" Bilar '93 blazed the trail for Kendall. Bilar played one season on the JV football team in the fall of her senior year. Katie Brickley ’94 also played briefly on the same JV squad.
Kendall attended three football practices, and she says the team atmosphere was the deciding factor to officially join the group. “I knew the guys would be accepting, so I wasn’t afraid to try something new,” she said. “And the coaches are really great. Their commitment to me as a player has helped me and made a big impact on how the season went for me.”
Quinn says that Kendall is the first female-identifying student-athlete he has coached in football. “From day one, the team has treated her like any other teammate. They are always looking out for her and encouraging her during practice and conditioning. They are very respectful and understand the importance of creating an inclusive culture that will welcome any member of the Hotchkiss community into our program,” he said. “We talk about our ‘football family’ all the time, and I think Saturday night was an amazing example of how much these players care about and support Kendall and want to see her succeed.”
Kendall is not sure if she will pursue football in the future, but she was “fascinated to learn that there is something beyond high school for women” in the sport. “I’m definitely glad I joined the team,” she said. “It’s not an experience I will ever get again.”