Spierings trying football in Waupaca
By Greg Seubert
Not only will Alyssa Spierings have a new school next month, she also has a new sport.
The junior is transferring from Waupaca’s First Baptist Christian School to Waupaca High School and is also out for football, a sport she has never played before.
“I’m just here to have fun,” Spierings said Aug. 2 after the Comets wrapped up their first day of practice. “I’ve never played football. It’s pretty much what I expected.”
First-year coach Tom Noltner is happy to have Spierings on the field.
“Alyssa’s a great girl and we’re glad to have her out here,” he said. “She’s doing the best she can and she’s learning. She’s never played before, so it’s all new. The guys have kind of taken her under their wing and they’re helping her out.”
Although football is new to Spierings, competing in sports isn’t.
“I’ve done almost every kind of running sport that I can do,” she said. “I did cross country, track, cheerleading, volleyball, basketball. Then I ride bulls in the summer.”
She also started wrestling last season and eventually competed in the girls’ state high school tournament earlier this year in Wisconsin Dells.
“I really enjoy contact sports,” Spierings said. “I like it. I wasn’t affiliated with a school, I just took private lessons. The first match I ever wrestled was at state in Wisconsin Dells. When I first started wrestling, I was at 113 (pounds). As soon as I started lifting with the boys, I gained a lot of muscle and by the end of the season, I was at 132. That was quite a bit of a jump.”
Spierings plans on wrestling after football season ends. If she goes out, it would be the third straight season that the Comets would have a girl on the roster. Christina Rasmussen competed for Waupaca in 2014-15, while Amanda Worthey wrestled during the 2015-16 season.
“It’s a contact sport as well,” Spierings said. “I like being able to figure out a strategy. Even though I’m weaker than a normal boy and I’m not as strong and not as fast, that’s just how it’s going to be. It’s figuring out a strategy to outthink the boys. Even though you can’t outrun them or outlift them, you can figure out a strategy to pin them or tackle them.”
Spierings’ formal introduction to high school football came earlier this summer during the Comets’ week-long camp.
“Well, when I first walked in, they were looking at me,” Spierings said. “There was a lot of shock. A lot of them were really quiet and didn’t know how to treat me. After the camp, they started warming up to me. I have a couple of friends that walk me through stuff that I have no idea what I’m doing. I walked in not knowing anything and was really lost and confused at times.”
She first thought about playing youth football in Weyauwega as a fifth-grader.
“I wanted to go out,” she said. “I went to the sign-up and I ended up cheerleading.”
Not only does Spierings have her own locker for football, she has her own locker room.
“It’s a little weird being in an empty locker room,” she said. “I have to have the guys let me into the school through the other door. It doesn’t bug me.”
At practice, Spierings is getting time on the field as a defensive back and wide receiver, but won’t be eligible to play in varsity games.
“She will play junior varsity only because of a transfer rule,” Noltner said. “We’re trying to make her feel good here and welcome. We’ll try to come up with some plays for her to have some success.”
Not only does Spierings have her hands full learning a new sport, she’s also heading to a new school.
“I’m slightly nervous about getting lost and stuff, but I know quite a few people from here because a lot of them go to my church,” she said.
Spierings believes her wrestling experience will carry over onto the football field.
“A lot of the mental conditioning helps with that,” she said. “When you get your face smashed into a mat, you get back up. In football, you get right back up.”
“She’s a pretty rugged, tough girl,” Noltner said. “The guys like to have her out here. She has a good sense of humor and she’s not shy. She won’t hold back.”