MANCHESTER (CBS) — The Manchester-Essex Hornets are fired up, and one of their starting players is in a league all by herself.
At just 5’2″ and weighing 100 pounds, Anna Zerilli is the first ever varsity team female kicker.READ MORE: UMass Lowell Closed Tuesday Due To 'Possible Cybersecurity Incident'
“Nobody in my family really plays football,” Zerilli told WBZ-TV’s Chantee Lans. “I have a few cousins, but I kinda swung this myself.”
Now a junior, she joined during her freshman year.
“It was challenging at first, but it’s fine now, because I get a lot of support from my team,” Zerilli said.
“After every kick, I give her a pat on the back and say great kick, and just tell her that she’s gonna make it and gonna do great,” her teammate Jake Athanas said.
Rick Gonsalves has been coaching kickers for 47 years–but he said he’s never had a girl on the team, or seen a female kicker before.
“I know there’s been a few in the state, but as far as my coaching any, this is the first time,” he said. “There’s no reason why they can’t do it. I’d like to see it.”READ MORE: Massachusetts Announces $1M 'VaxMillions' COVID Vaccine Lottery; 'If You're Not Vaccinated, You Can't Play'
So far, Zerilli has scored 20 extra points this season.
“Right now she’s fifth, I believe, 6 among the Cape Anne scorers for extra points,” Gonsalves said.
“I enjoy that moment when I make it and my entire team gets happy about it,” Zerilli said. “That’s my entire favorite moment. That’s why I continue doing it.”
Her presence on the team is inspiring to students at the school, too.
“It’s a small school and the fact that we have a girl kicker is really empowering,” said Senior Belle Allmendinger.
The Hornets’ last game of the season is on Thanksgiving, but Anna is considering going even further–her mother said she is looking at both D2 and D3 colleges.MORE NEWS: Fourth Stimulus Check: Will You Get Another Relief Payment?
“It’s not an easy thing to do and watching her in the field makes me think she’s the bravest person I’ve ever met,” Anna’s mother said.