Alexis Shiplett didn’t want to be treated any differently than the boys.
She was first interested in joining the Richmond High School football team during her junior year, but the preseason workouts had passed, and it was up to Shiplett to work out in the following offseason to earn her spot.
When she got her opportunity, Shiplett became “one of the guys.”
“She’s a part of our group, but we love having her around, and she’s performing,” Richmond senior quarterback Alston Bane said.
Shiplett recently completed her season as the kicker for the Red Devils football team.
The multi-sport talent missed one game — because of a soccer conflict — but aside from that was as reliable as they come.
On Friday nights, Shiplett kicked 13 extra points in 18 tries for the 4-6 Red Devils.
The rest of the week, she helped Richmond’s girls soccer team win its first sectional title since 2007, scoring five goals with an assist in the Red Devils’ 13-4-3 season.
“No one really thought anything of it,” Shiplett said. “In the winter I went to all of them, the big meeting with everybody and I was like, ‘Hey, I want to be your kicker,’ so the very first time I had the opportunity, I talked to them about it.”
Richmond’s football team had a female kicker play a small role in Holeva’s first year with the program, and a few girls have wrestled at the school. But no female has played a major role in a boys sport at the school in the same way that Shiplett did.
Shiplett’s brightest moment on the football field came against Logansport, as the Red Devils celebrated a 56-6 victory over the North Central Conference foe Berries. She went a perfect 8-for-8 in extra-point attempts in the game.
“She’s had a lot of success,” Richmond football coach Matt Holeva said.
“… She’s done a great job all year. She kind of won us over during the winter time and honestly before we even saw her kick a football, we were in winter workouts, she comes up, shows up and she’s working hard and working as hard, or harder, than one of the guys. We knew at that point, she won my respect at that point.”
Shiplett’s only conflict came Sept. 2, when the football team defeated Arsenal Tech 13-7 and the girls soccer team beat Jennings County 2-0 in the opening round of the Hoosier Cup. The soccer Red Devils tied Evansville Central 1-1 the next day and defeated Bloomington South 1-0 to claim their pool championship.
“They didn’t conflict really at all,” Shiplett said. “I felt, if you can really balance everything together and you know you’re able to, then just go for it. If you know you’re capable of it, then use your capabilities to your advantage.”
Shiplett played four years of varsity soccer, seeing time at goalie, forward, defense and wherever her team needed her. Her first love was soccer.
She hopes to study neuroscience at Bellarmine University and play soccer for the Knights, an NCAA Division II program.
Balancing various things during her high school career helped prepare her.
“I think she’s had a lot of fun with it,” Richmond girls soccer coach Eric Wilson said. “We joked with her sometimes because sometimes she’d put the soccer ball over the frames, put it between the uprights, but we have to get her mindset back down to keeping it on the ground. But she’d been keeping herself busy, and it’s good to see her having fun with it.”
Shiplett helped the girls soccer team return to success after a few losing seasons. In Wilson’s first year, 2012, the Red Devils won just three games.
Five years later, Shiplett’s senior class helped the Red Devils earn four straight winning seasons, going 46-20-9, and more importantly, beating New Castle in the sectional championship game.
“It was fantastic,” Shiplett said of her team’s soccer sectional. “It was one of the surreal moments you never think you would actually react the way that you do, then it’s over and you realize it was just a surreal moment. No one expected us to win, except ourselves and we really fought hard to the finish, which made it better.”
Shiplett had an opportunity to see something that inspired her when the Red Devils played at Harrison to end the regular season. As the Raiders wrapped up a share of the North Central Conference championship, senior Hayley Cutter played some snaps at nose guard.
“I would do something like that, if I had the physical build, the capabilities, I would play a different position,” Shiplett said. “If I would have learned, even in the summer, they could have put me in some of those positions. I think it was great that she was following what she wanted to do in life.”
Shiplett’s advice to other girls looking to play a male dominated sport? Start young.
“If I had the opportunity to play a different position I would. I don’t have the hand-eye coordination or anything, so I would say, if they’re really interested in it, to start young,” Shiplett said. “You’ll learn what you need to do. You can even build the muscle to be a receiver, to not bulk up. But I’d just say, keep doing what you need to do, because you can be successful in the position.”