Martz shines on both soccer, football fields

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Dedicated. Hard-working. Trailblazer. These are just a few of the words used to describe Bedford Area High School senior Emily Martz.

Last year, she was part of the Bisons’ first-ever district champion girls’ soccer team. This year, she set her sights on kicking footballs.

“It was really my sister who set me on this path,” said Emily. “She’s in 8th grade, kicks, and is obsessed with football; and she pretty much taught me how to (place) kick.”

For Bedford football coach Kevin Steele, it was all about putting his team in the best position to be successful.

“If she was the best, she’d play,” Steele said, “and she knew that from the beginning.”

After more than a dozen years of playing with the same soccer teammates, Emily admits it was a little uncomfortable at first, showing up for the football team picture as the only girl, dressing in a separate locker room, and often practicing her kicking alone during the team’s workouts. But her attitude and work ethic quickly impressed her teammates, including quarterback Davis Kline.

“She’s proved herself and she’s just a good athlete,” Kline said.“She comes to practice, works hard, and gets better. I don’t think anyone cares who’s playing as long as they do the job well, and she does.”

Last Friday, Martz attempted her first field goal of the season, splitting the uprights from 33 yards out to seal the 34-24 victory over Somerset, a win crucial to Bedford’s playoff hopes.

“I just took a deep breath and kicked,” Martz said, “and I didn’t even see it go through because I got tackled, but I saw everyone on the team celebrating.”

“It was a big part of the game,” Steele said, “and she came through in a pressure situation and did her job.”

Her teammates say Emily never tries to bring attention to herself. Still, it’s hard not to notice the shock of long curls sticking out of her helmet as she stands along the sidelines. And the Bisons’ youngest fans are definitely taking notice.

“That’s probably my favorite thing about this whole experience,” Martz said. “All the little kids who come up and say that you don’t have to be a boy to play football. I think if girls got to play growing up like boys do it would be awesome.”

Despite starting for an undefeated soccer squad hungry to defend the district title, and making 20-of-22 extra point attempts for a football team battling for a playoff berth, Martz isn’t sure which sport, if any, is in her collegiate future. But right now, she’s busy doing her best for both of her teams, and setting a strong example for others.

“I hope I’m paving the way for my sisters and other girls,” she said.

“Anything’s possible if you put your mind to it,” kicking coach Jacob Welty added. “That’s what Emily does. She gives her all, and she’s succeeded.”

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.

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