Charles de Rosier snapped it, Zach Martin held it, and Chloe Robinson kicked it.
On any other night, with any other kicker, it would have been one of the most routine plays in all of sports: the extra point attempt. Last Friday as part of Millikan’s 42-0 win over West Adams, it was history. Robinson became the first female player ever to score a point for the Rams’ football team.
“I actually had no idea that I was the first until later,” said Robinson, who was 2-for-2 on extra point tries in the game. “That was a pretty proud moment.”It’s been a proud moment for the entire Millikan and Long Beach sporting community. A post about her accomplishment on the team Twitter account went viral and was trending in Long Beach, gaining her congratulations and salutes from players and coaches at rival schools.
“I’m just surprised and impressed by her bravery,” said Millikan coach Justin Utupo. “She won half the battle just by showing up and joining — she has no fear, and she’s ripping it. She’s hit up to 38-yard field goals in practice.”
Robinson is a lifelong soccer player who’s always had a strong leg. On her club team and at Millikan her freshman and sophomore years she always took corner kicks and free kicks, and proudly points out she’s never missed a penalty kick on the pitch.
Last spring she had the idea to try another sport that would let her boom a ball downfield: football. She ran it by some of her friends on the team, but was wary of being shut out of a notoriously male-dominated sport. Instead, she was welcomed with open arms.
De Rosier is in ASB with Robinson and was one of the first players she approached about joining the team.
“My first reaction was I was really excited for her,” he said. “She loves doing new things and we were coming off a 1-9 season, so we were looking for anyone to help us get better. We’re a tight-knit family, it doesn’t matter that she’s a girl. We’re trying to rise as one.”
Robinson went to try out for the team but was still nervous that Utupo might not be into the idea. She was shocked when he not only said yes, but made time later that same day to have her try her foot at the new sport. When she made her very first attempt, she had a spot on the team.
“Everyone’s been so supportive, it definitely surprised me,” she said. “I was trying to think about how I’d feel about it if I was a guy—I didn’t want to come out here and prove a point or anything, or say girls are better than boys. I just fell in love with the sport and wanted to play.”
The whole team has been playing well after one week. The Rams won just one game last year and already equaled that total in a drubbing of West Adams last week. Starting kicker Christian Bravo and Robinson combined to make all their extra point attempts, which is something of a rarity at Moore League schools lately.
Increasingly less rare is the idea of girls playing football. Compton and Poly both feature female players on their lower-level rosters, with the Jackrabbits having both a kicker and a receiver on their frosh/soph team. A few years ago Killian Turley kicked an extra point for Poly in a varsity game, the first instance of a female player scoring a point for a league school.
Across the state it’s become more and more common as well, with 420 girls playing football in California last year according to the CIF State organization, up from just 149 a decade ago.
Not only has the team and coaching staff been welcoming to Robinson, she said her family has had her back as well.
“My parents were behind me completely, and probably the person who’s been most proud of me was my grandfather, Loren,” she said. “We send letters to each other because he lives in Washington and he sent me pictures of him in his football uniform in high school.”
De Rosier said the team celebrated on the sideline last week when Robinson’s kick went in because they knew how hard she’d been working.
“It was just overwhelming pride for her,” he said.
That feeling of being overwhelmed hit Robinson later in the night. Utupo got a Gatorade bath for winning his first game as Millikan coach, and then the team streamed back into the locker room, singing and banging on the lockers to celebrate a 1-0 start to the season.
“We don’t get to do that in soccer,” she said with a laugh. “It’s just an unforgettable, amazing experience. I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”