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Jenna VanHolland kicking it for Garretson soccer and football

Karl’s TV & Appliance Athlete of the Week
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 11:57 PM CDT
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GARRETSON, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Chris Long knows the sound of a good kicker.

“(It’s) that thud that you just know.” Long says.

And the Garretson head football coach was in need of one early in the year as he walked past Blue Dragon girl’s soccer practice.

“I just said to the (soccer) coach do you got a kicker? And she goes yeah, I actually do have a couple. And I said well I’m coming back down and we’re going to check it out, mostly kind of joking around.” Long says.

“They kind of asked us to tryout and I kind of felt like it was a joke. I didn’t think I was ever going to make the team.” Garretson junior Jenna VanHolland says.

Jenna VanHolland began kicking a soccer ball at five years old and began playing on the varsity team as an 8th grader.

“I was on the defensive line and I was always making longer balls. So I’ve always kind of had that long ball leg and I’ve always worked on those long balls.” VanHolland says.

“We got down here and saw what she had in kickers, and especially obviously in Jenna, and we said lets roll with this.” Long says.

But there was just one problem.

“I’m not going to lie, I think last year I probably went to one football game which was homecoming. Like I almost put my pads on the outside of my pants. It was going to be bad! The footing is actually a lot different. Soccer ball you kind of just do whatever you want. But for football you have three steps. So I guess it was a little new to get used to but besides that it was pretty easy.” Jenna says.

In addition to learning the game, and juggling practice schedules, Jenna also had to plan for what could happen if things went wrong.

“For a bad snap she gets the heck out of the way! And if it is a field goal and it gets blocked I say get out of the way and don’t try to be the hero!” Long says.

“They yell ‘FIRE’ and I run my butt off the field!” VanHolland says.

It all got put to the test right away in her first game at Viborg-Hurley when, after missing a kick early in the game, Jenna was called on to try and win the game with an extra point in overtime.

“I told myself not think about it because I knew if I was going to think about it it probably wouldn’t end up going the way I wanted it to. So I got up there and kicked the ball and then all of a sudden this huge crowd of people was around me and everbody gave me this big hug and it was great!” VanHolland says.

Though Jenna has gone on to go 34-37 in her point after attempts this season.....

“She’s just a gamer. She’s an athlete that enjoys competing. You can tell she competes.” Long says.

...the junior admits she doesn’t really know what a good kicker sounds like.

“I don’t really think so I can’t really hear it!” Jenna says.

Young girls across South Dakota who look up to the first female player in Garretson football history certainly do.

“I mean I give them high fives in the hallways and they know my name! Yeah I think maybe I made a little history, I hope it’s good, I think it’s good. I just want to be a good role model for everybody.” VanHolland says.

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