It took Trista Primmer more than one try to make Lincoln County football history in West Lincoln’s season opener August 20 against North Lincoln.
Listed on the roster at 5-feet-4 and 110 pounds – she says she is closer to 107 – Primmer missed her first field goal attempt by a foot. A bad snap threw off her timing.
Undaunted, the senior specialist redeemed herself after West Lincoln scored a touchdown in the second quarter, sending a point-after attempt through the uprights. In doing so, the senior and four-sport athlete became the first known female to score at the varsity level for a Lincoln County high school football team. She finished that game 2-for-2 in PATs.
West Lincoln coach Darren Ponder said it was Primmer’s determination to get it right that won her the place-kicking job that night.
“We went right back to her on the extra point, and she was so happy she made it,” Ponder recalled. “After that, I said this is our kid for the rest of the year.”
Primmer’s path to history started in her junior year. A rare multi-sport athlete in these times of specialization, Primmer informed her soccer coach, Brad Newton, that she “could kick the football as good as the boys,” according to Ponder.
Ponder gave her a chance and noted that “she nailed every kick” during a workout. When the 2020 season was pushed back to the spring by the pandemic, Primmer handled kicking duties for the jayvee team.
By the time the fall season rolled around, she was ready for the challenge of varsity football.
What does it feel like to break the gender barrier in football at her school?
“It was crazy at first,” said Primmer after last week’s 27-7 win over Cherryville at Rudisill Stadium. “It has taken a while for the guys to get used to having a girl on the team and having to react differently with changing and everything else. But it’s been so much fun.”
Students around campus have been skeptical when Primmer mentions her role with the team.
“I have had some who don’t know about it, and they question it. One of the kids in English didn’t believe me, but I wore the jersey on game day, and he still thought I was kidding. But then (the team) went down Rebel Road and he knew,” Primmer said.
Finding time to practice her kicking skills has been a challenge for Primmer this season. During the week of the Cherryville game, she had two volleyball matches to compete in and an overlap situation between volleyball practice and football practice.
“It’s a time management thing,” said Primmer, who plays two sports in the fall, basketball in the winter, and soccer in the spring.
At first, Primmer’s parents thought football was not a good idea for their daughter. Her father said she was too small. But she persevered.
“My junior year I told my mom I was going to football practice to kick. Then I came home with the pads, the helmet and the jersey, and my dad was not too happy. But he’s getting better about it,” Primmer said.
With West Lincoln off to a 2-0 start, Primmer has been a popular person during the post-game socializing.
“I have had people come up after games with their kids and they tell me I have been so encouraging, that I am a good example. For myself, it has brought me a lot of confidence,” said Primmer, whose career goal is to get a nursing degree and eventually a nurse anesthetist license.
Even a tough night against Cherryville -- 1-for-3 in extra points with a block -- has not shaken Primmer’s confidence. She is looking forward to the next opportunity to tee it up. (Published September 3, 2021)