At just 11 years old, Skylar Lantz is obviously a born athlete.
Skylar, who attends Vaughn Elementary, has been playing organized sports since she was in kindergarten.
She started with wrestling when she was 4 years old. In 2013, she played tackle football with a Peninsula Youth Association team. She was the only girl in the league.
This past summer, she took a break then tried lacrosse with Harbor Fire Lacrosse.
“But that was an all-girls team and she was kind of bummed because she really likes playing co-ed,” said Jennifer Lantz, Skylar’s mother. “And also, it wasn’t rough enough. She loved running and tackling and pushing the boys around.”
This fall, Skylar has been playing flag football with the Timberwolves, a PenMet Parks team.
“You get more playing time in flag football, but I miss the tackling,” Skylar said. “I like playing running back and defensive end and now I do both offense and defense and play running back and receiver.”
Skylar’s older brother, Zane, 13, was doing wrestling when Skylar was a toddler. “We’d take her with us to his practices and she would just sit there and watch with great interest,” Jennifer Lantz recalled.
”She was just 4 years old. I thought, ‘Gosh, she likes this.’ I just knew it but I don’t want her to wrestle.”
But because Brad Lantz, Skylar and Zane’s father, is a coach and had wrestled when he was growing up, he was passionate about it, so he “was OK with the idea that his daughter wanted to wrestle,” Jennifer Lantz recalled.
“It took me a while to get used to the idea, but Skylar ended up wrestling and she did awesome,” she added.
It also took a while for some of Skylar’s teammates to get used to the idea of having a girl on the team when she started playing football.
“When I first got there, the teammates didn’t respect me,” Skylar said. “I just had to show them.”
She did that by making tons of tackles and doing a lot of pushing.
Flag football is different, but it’s still fun, and the boys on the team like having her on their team, she said.
Ten-year-old Jack Timmons is one of Skylar’s Timberwolf teammates.
“The first game, she got two interceptions and three touchdowns and a two-point conversion. She’s very good. She pretty much plays any position,” he said.
“Some of the boys on the other team were making fun of her, but they didn’t make any touchdowns and she got, like, all the touchdowns in the first game, so she showed them that she’s very good.
“She’s nice, she’s fast and she’s smart. And she’s not afraid to tackle someone,” he added.
Greg Butler, Timberwolves head coach, has nothing but praise for Skylar.
“She’s definitely a team player. She jumps right in there and she really helps everybody, helps them along and works with them very well. And she plays the game very well. She’s a standout.”
Brad Lantz, Skylar’s father, thinks it’s cool that Skylar loves sports so much.
“When she’s played sports, whether it was wrestling or co-ed soccer or tackle football or flag football, there’s always some boys that might want to have a bad attitude about having a girl on the team.
“She doesn’t deal with that, she just stands up for herself and goes out there and earns their respect, because, frankly, she can beat most of them.
“I’m proud of her, what she has accomplished and she doesn’t let pressure of other people influence her. She makes her own choices to do what she wants, so I’m proud of her whether she chooses to do sports or not do sports,” Lantz said.
Gender doesn’t matter if you have a desire to play, coach Butler said. “If you have the desire to play something, then go out and do it,” he said.
Skylar agreed. “I tell the other girls that if you want to do something, just go for it,” she said.