Elizabeth High School girls make their mark

Five female athletes commit to colleges on National Signing Day

An all-female group of five Elizabeth High School athletes committed to colleges and universities on National Signing Day, Feb. 3. The girls represent Elizabeth High School’s exceptional softball and track and field teams.
The five athletes, their sports, and the schools they’ve committed to are:
The five athletes, their sports, and the schools they’ve committed to are:
• Grace Alltop, softball, Colby Community College in Colby, Kansas
• Hanna Espinosa, softball, Colorado Christian University in Lakewood
• Rachel Glaser, track and field, Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri
• Ella Hedman, track and field, University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota
• Lily Smith, track and field, Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska
“It feels pretty surreal,” Ella Hedman said in a Feb. 21 interview. “Running in college has been one of my biggest goals for a long time. I have spent a lot of time working towards getting recruited and improving my times and it really hasn’t hit me yet that I will be going to the next level. My focus right now is more towards being the best athlete I can be in high school and setting a solid foundation for what comes next.”
American girls have been working toward carving a space for themselves in the world of sports for a century, but only in the past few decades have they had more opportunities to compete at advanced levels. Millions of girls have diligently and tirelessly fought for the same athletic opportunities, the same funding and scholarships, and the same spotlight as their male counterparts — and the five female athletes to commit from Elizabeth High School prove that the fight has been paying off.
“I would say the biggest obstacle for me was having more than one coach tell me that I am not good enough for the team nor any high level of competition. With that they took some of the love of the game away from me and almost made me quit softball forever. I remember crying to my mom every time after both games and practices,” said softball player Grace Alltop in a Feb. 21 interview. “The way I faced this problem was quitting that team and finding a new team, a team and a coach that believed, cared about me, and pushed me to become better. That coach also helped me find the love of the game again and an even more reason to push to my dream.”
Though some of the Elizabeth High School girls faced trials during their athletic journeys, others found nothing but comfort and support from their teams and coaches, something their athletic foremothers fought so hard for.
“I have been pretty blessed to say that I haven’t experienced any more difficulties than my male counterparts,” said Hedman. “Track is a very inclusive sport and I feel that most club teams I have been on have been very female dominant and the boys have always been very inclusive and willing to run with the girls, challenging them to be better. I also feel that the coaches and staff at EHS make sure that all female athletes have the same opportunities as males.”
Oftentimes girls who compete at advanced-level sports once dreamed of being in that position — be it as a little girl playing on her middle school travel softball team or an 8-year-old girl trying out soccer for the first time. Little girls love to dream big. With athletic programs and opportunities like those within the Elizabeth School District, the dreams of those little girls can become a reality.
“Something I would say to little girls in sports would be to never give up and ask for help from coaches, teammates, parents and even other people in that sport,” Alltop said. “For the older girls I would say, listen to your coaches but never let them break you down and tell you that you are not good enough. Know why you fell in love with that sport and think about your younger self and the younger girls that look up to you.”
“Any girl who wants to try track and field should go for it,” Rachel Glaser said in a Feb. 22 interview. “There are so many different events to try out, and you can break out of the stereotypes that are expected.”
Speaking of stereotypes, Glaser added: “In track and field I am a thrower. There is a stereotype for throwers that they are big beefy men.” But Glaser has excelled, and is looking ahead. “It’s very exciting to know that all my hard work in the past four years has finally paid off. I’m very excited to see how much I will continue to grow through the chapter of my life and build new relationships with my new team.”
Glaser plans to study elementary education at Southwest Baptist. “I hope to inspire young minds and help them reach their full potential,” she said. “I want to encourage everyone to reach for their goals no matter how big they are. I also hope to be able to coach at a high school and help them be successful in everywhere they would like to go.”
Glaser noted that after reaching her goal for high school, “I hope to be able to make it to the NCAA championships. I know it won’t be easy and may not happen for a few more years, but I’m determined to work as hard as I can to make it.”
“As a female, having access to athletic opportunities is really empowering,” said Hedman. “One of the things that I love about track at the high school level is that many women are able to compete with and even beat their male peers. It’s also important that girls take control of their health, and sports are a great way to do so.”
To watch the Elizabeth High School National Signing Day ceremony, visit youtube.com/watch?v=KsmyIRTMVtE.
For more information on Elizabeth High School sports, visit elizabethathletics.com.
Elizabeth High School, girls athletics, National Signing Day, scholarship, Elbert County


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