Nick Egeling has at least two older relatives who were captains when they played high school football at Le Roy.
Egeling, one of the 2015 varsity captains, knows one of his goals is to help the team.
So when it was clear the Oatkan Knights needed a kicker this fall, Egeling recruited a classmate, a soccer player he knew.
Her name is Mary Purdy, also a senior at Le Roy. When the defending Section V Class C champions kick off their season Friday night against Letchworth/Warsaw, Purdy, according to assistant coach and team historian Jim Bonacquisti, becomes the first young woman to play on the Le Roy varsity, a team that dates back 118 years.
“I didn’t want it to be that honestly,” Purdy said. “I wanted to come out and help these guys. They needed a kicker. Why wouldn’t I do it?”
Purdy said that LeRoy assistant coach Brad Dietsch, a teacher in the school district, would bring up the possibility to each other. Athletic director Brian Moran, Purdy’s driver education teacher and Le Roy’s all-time winningest coach, “kind of joked around about it, too,” according to the four-year varsity soccer player.
Like Egeling, Purdy’s other friends on the team also encouraged her to tryout when official practices began Aug. 17.
“They were all for it,” Purdy said. “I mean, my season (with the Rochester Football Club soccer team) doesn’t start until the middle of October. I can help out these guys, a lot of them are close friends with me.
“I didn’t do it for the attention it was going to call. I didn’t think it was going to call much attention to be honest, it’s been kind of a surprise.”
Egeling helped Purdy practice during the summer at Hartwood Park, where Le Roy plays it’s home games.
“I knew she had a leg and she wasn’t playing soccer this year (at Le Roy),” Egeling said. “I decided, you know we don’t have a kicker, our kicker left last year and I decided that points are points.
“If she can kick it through, that’s all that matters. None of the guys on the team have really kicked before. We had someone kick last year who never played before, so why not Mary?’’
Purdy did have to demonstrate to first-year coach Brian Herdlein she could handle the assignments of field goals and the conversion kicks after touchdowns.
“She came out here (to Hartwood),” Herdlein said. “I pulled up in the parking lot and I see her kicking 35-yard field goals, no problem.
“To that point, I said if you are interested, these are all of the things that we have to do, you have to understand what your role is going to be. She’s been great for us.’’
Le Roy’s newest placekicker is listed at 5 foot-7 inches and 150 pounds. Purdy has never played this type of football, at least not in shoulder pads.
“Mixed reaction from the parents,” she said. “My dad (Eric) does not want me to get hurt. He doesn’t care that I’m playing, I guess he’s just happy that I’m doing something. He is very concerned about my safety. My mom (Judy) thinks it’s awesome, proud I would say.’’
Not every team, including some in the National Football League, that expects their kickers to throw their weight around on the field with effect. But what happens if a kick is blocked and scooped by the opposing team?
“I would say that she is not expected to go out there and make any tackles,” Herdlein said. “If the situation does present itself, she is a tough girl. I’m not saying she is taking on any big guy, one on one, but she’s able to defend herself and do what she needs to do on a football field.
“We’re not asking her to get out there and bang around. Again, she is going to be kicking extra points and field goals. You hope to think there’s not going to be a field goal blocked, but it does happen. Hopefully, she does the right thing.’’
It’s been a learning experience for Purdy, who said she never place kicked before this summer, and not with a formation of players in front of her following a snap, until trying out for the Oatkan Knights.
“That was a little nerve-wracking,” Purdy said. “I actually really enjoy it, it’s a lot different than kicking a soccer ball. I didn’t realize that there are a lot of things that can go wrong when place kicking, it isn’t just me screwing up.
“Between the snap, the hold and everything else, it’s not going to be perfect every time.’’