Education

Pelion girls give history the boot

Pelion High School football players Kaci Poole, left, and Elizabeth Mitchum both booted extra points in a 42-13 win over Wagener-Salley on Friday, possibly the first time in state history that two girls scored points in the same varsity football game.
Pelion High School football players Kaci Poole, left, and Elizabeth Mitchum both booted extra points in a 42-13 win over Wagener-Salley on Friday, possibly the first time in state history that two girls scored points in the same varsity football game. The State

Pelion High juniors Elizabeth Mitchum and Kaci Poole accomplished something Friday night that is believed to be a first.

Each made an extra-point kick during the Panthers’ 42-13 victory against Wagener-Salley.

In doing so, they became the first two girls to score points for the same team in a varsity football game in South Carolina — and possibly in the nation.

“Usually having one (girl score) is a groundbreaking performance,” said Pam Noakes, executive director of the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports. “I’d have to guess that would be the first time that has happened (having two girls score).”

Self-proclaimed country girls, Mitchum and Poole joined Pelion’s team for spring practice in May after their varsity soccer season ended. Both had been encouraged to do so by Pelion assistant coach Parrish Deans.

“They both are soccer players and do well,” Pelion athletics director and football coach Ben Freeman said. “They started working over the summer and have really progressed well.”

Poole is continuing a family tradition. Her older cousin, Anna Derrick Bailey, played tight end in the mid-1990s in Chapin, where she was an all-area athlete in basketball and softball.

“She always talked about it,” Poole said. “So I’d always thought I would do it. So I gave it a shot.”

Mitchum grew up playing football in the yard and climbing trees with her older male cousins. Still, she’s a bit amazed by all that’s happened.

“I grew up watching football,” said Mitchum, who has been playing competitive soccer for nine years. “But I never thought I’d actually be playing it.”

Mitchum and Poole became acquainted two years ago when Mitchum moved to Pelion from Swansea. They both entered the Miss Freshman beauty pageant, with Poole winning and Mitchum finishing runner-up.

In football, it’s Mitchum who has had the advantage so far.

She is the first-string varsity kicker, while Poole handles the duties for the junior-varsity team and is Mitchum’s varsity backup.

Mitchum has made seven of eight extra-point kicks. Her first in a varsity game occurred in the season opener and provided the difference in a 7-6 win against her former school, Swansea.

In the spring, when she attempted to kick a football for the first time, she was shocked when the ball sailed through the uprights.

“I didn’t think I’d (even) be able to kick it,” she said.

Freeman said Mitchum’s leg strength gives her the edge on Poole. Neither has attempted a kickoff or a field goal, but that might change for Mitchum.

“Her leg is getting stronger and stronger,” Freeman said. “I think she’ll end up making field goals for us.”

Freeman has not allowed either girl to kick off because that would increase the chances of contact with male players who are considerably larger. While that plan sits well with their mothers, the girls feel differently.

“I would love to tackle,” the 5-foot-4, 112-pound Poole said.

“That would be fun,” the 5-5, 150-pound Mitchum agreed.

Freeman appreciates that Mitchum and Poole are playing for more than the novelty and, as it turned out, maybe a place in the record books.

“They are not out there just to be out there,” Freeman said. “They want to do well. That’s important.”

Reach Wiseman at (803) 771-8472

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