Kicking down barriers: Sophomore kicker makes history at Auburn High

Even an ACL injury couldn’t stop Ellie Rodning from becoming the first girl to score points in a Tigers football game.
Published: Oct. 24, 2021 at 4:26 PM CDT
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AUBURN, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s a story of perseverance, determination, and one that Ellie Rodning will never forget.

“I was kind of just coming to that realization that it’s here, it’s coming. Just work your butt off Monday and Tuesday,” said Rodning. ”Once I started running on the field, I got pretty nervous. My adrenaline kicked in. After I kicked it, I felt a bunch of relief, and I was just proud of myself, and all the guys and coaches supporting me made it ten times better.”

Rodning made history last week by becoming the first girl to score points in a football game at Auburn High School. She was a perfect 2-for-2 on extra points, helping the Tigers JV’s squad defeat La Grange in the season finale.

“I honestly didn’t look at it after I kicked it,” Rodning said about her first kick. “I was trying not to jump up and down, and I had tears of joys rolling out of my eyes but it was really cool, being the first to do that.”

“I actually had one of my coaches text me right before she kicked, and he was like Ellie’s about to kick, and he was like ‘She hit it!’ and I was like this at practice like ‘Yes!,” added Auburn varsity head coach Keith Etheredge. “She did real good I’m very proud of her.”

But, making history was no smooth sailing for the sophomore. Rodning tore her ACL last year at the beginning of soccer season, putting her shot at teeing up for the Tigers in jeopardy.

“Honestly I didn’t have that much trouble physically,” she said. “I bounced back very quickly physically, it was more of the mental aspect of it. It was very hard for me and it was hard to learn how to walk again.”

Ellie Rodning had to have ACL surgery in 2020.
Ellie Rodning had to have ACL surgery in 2020.(Source: Rodning Family)

And after nearly a year and a rescheduled matchup the week of the game, Rodning finally stepped on the field.

“It was great for her to get that opportunity because she had worked so hard all offseason to get back to where she could actually have a chance to kick in the very last JV game. It was awesome,” said Etheredge.

It’s proof that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

“I mean there were probably so many people that doubted me, that didn’t think I could do it, but if you just don’t listen them and just focus and keep your head in the game,” sad Rodning. “People are gonna look at you, people are gonna stare, but once you prove them all wrong, then they’re gonna be quiet. They’re not gonna talk anymore.”

It’s a message that inspires the Auburn community, and someone else who’s familiar with breaking barriers; former Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller, who became the first girl to score points at a Power Five college, shared a message with Rodning about her accomplishment.

Rodning plans to play football next season. She is also a member of the Auburn High soccer team.

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