By: David DiPino Contributing Writer
Ashlee Ritter and her Atlantic Eagles varsity high school football teammates have a motto printed on a shirt they wear with pride “1% Better Every Day.” It’s a slogan she also uses as inspiration to compete as a field goal and extra point kicker.
Ritter, a 17-year-old senior at Atlantic Community High School, played soccer in her youth as a center halfback and then competed as an athlete for the Eagles’ flag football team.
Now, she’s kicking extra points and field goals for the tackle team, soccer style, a popular way of football kicking prominent in the 1980s and 1990s and 100 percent protocol today.
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was little. Then, I started this summer with the team kicking for the Atlantic Eagles varsity high school football team,” Ritter said.
In practice she kicked a 40-yarder, which split the uprights and through, for a field goal.
“I played flag football last year and I always thought about playing tackle football. I got a text message saying the football team needs a kicker so I came out and tried out.”
She showed her coaches she was serious about working her way on to a team which just two seasons ago played for a state championship in the Class 8A Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) State Championship Game.
“It was in the summer, one of the coaches kicked with me. I kicked a couple and they went in so I kept kicking more,” said Ritter.
In Ritter’s first regular season game of the season she connected on four of five extra-point kicks, scoring 4-points for the Eagles in their 40-13 win on the road at Palm Beach Central High School. She missed a 49-yard field goal in the game, which just makes her practice harder to become a better kicker for the Eagles.
“I come out here every day and practice with the rest of the team. We always start out every practice with the entire team. Then, we break out into position groups. I practice with the kickoff kicker and then the entire team comes together for special teams practice,” said Ritter.
She said her teammates, which are all young men, as she’s the only young woman on the team, treat her like a teammate, equally and respect her for who she is as a person and then, for her ability.
In her first pre-season game against the Deerfield Beach Bucks, Ritter booted a 32-yard field goal helping Atlantic build a 12-3 lead in a game they won 12-10 against Broward County’s high school football powerhouse.
According to the Week 5, FloridaHSFootball.com Top 25 and classification rankings, the Atlantic Eagles High School Varsity Football Team ranks No. 6 in the State of Florida’s Class 7A and No. 17 for the entire State of Florida (The entire Class 1A – 8A for high school football in Florida).
Ritter said her favorite subject in high school is mathematics and that she’s planning on going to college. Her cumulative grade point average hovers above 4.0 and she would consider kicking field goals in college if she is recruited as a kicker.
Atlantic will spend almost the entire month of October playing away games. The Eagles fly back home to play the Blanche Ely Tigers on Friday, Oct. 25, at Atlantic Community High School, 2455 W. Atlantic Ave. in Delray Beach and on Friday, Nov. 1, against the Columbus Explorers, a high school varsity football team from Miami.