Skylar Lantz, 11, loves playing football with the boys. According to her coach, Greg Butler, she is a standout player, one of the best (and only girls) in the PenMet Parks league. Photo by Scott Turner, KP News

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, Skylars mother. “And also, it wasnt 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.”

Skylars older brother, Zane, 13, was doing wrestling when Skylar was a toddler. “Wed 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 dont want her to wrestle.”

But because Brad Lantz, Skylar and Zanes 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 Skylars 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 didnt 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 its still fun, and the boys on the team like having her on their team, she said.

Ten-year-old Jack Timmons is one of Skylars Timberwolf teammates.

“The first game, she got two interceptions and three touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Shes 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 didnt make any touchdowns and she got, like, all the touchdowns in the first game, so she showed them that shes very good.     

“Shes nice, shes fast and shes smart. And shes not afraid to tackle someone,” he added.

Greg Butler, Timberwolves head coach, has nothing but praise for Skylar.

“Shes 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. Shes a standout.

Brad Lantz, Skylars father, thinks its cool that Skylar loves sports so much.

“When shes played sports, whether it was wrestling or co-ed soccer or tackle football or flag football, theres always some boys that might want to have a bad attitude about having a girl on the team.

She doesnt 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.

“Im proud of her, what she has accomplished and she doesnt let pressure of other people influence her. She makes her own choices to do what she wants, so Im proud of her whether she chooses to do sports or not do sports,” Lantz said.

Gender doesnt 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.

 

Skylar Lantz makes a move upfield during a recent game at Shemel Park in Gig Harbor. Lantz is the only girl in the league and was also a standout player when she played tackle football in 2013. Photo by Ed Johnson, KP news
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