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First female kicker to score for Union reflects on football experience

Stephenie Pereff
Posted at 4:24 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 19:38:27-05

TULSA, Okla. — Stephenie Pereff says she was hanging out at a football practice at Union High School when a coach asked her why she hadn't tried out yet.

"I was like oh, okay, I mean I am a soccer player so why not," Pereff said.

A quick email to head coach Kirk Fridrich opened the door.

"He said yeah, bring your cleats Monday," Pereff said. "And then yeah, I made the team."

Pereff kicked that door wide open even though kicking a football is something new.

"The first time I ever kicked a football was two days before I tried out," she said.

"You can do anything you set your mind to" is Pereff's life motto. It's something she learned from her parents who couldn't be more supportive of a daughter playing football.

"They were ecstatic," Pereff said. "They were honestly not really shocked though, they were like 'OK Stephenie just go for it.'"

Stephenie Pereff
Stephenie Pereff kicking a football at Union practice.

And go for it she did. A few games into the season, Pereff got her big chance.

"Coach Davis, I just remember he goes 'grab the tee, you're up kid,'" she said. "And I was like, oh Lord."

Pereff felt the weight of the moment. She was wearing No. 98, the number of Juan Cruz, a player taken too soon. Wanting to honor him and be an example for other girls, she hit the field knowing if she made the extra point she'd become the first female player to kick and score for the Redhawks.

"I was feeling very nervous. I remember holding my leg when I was set up to kick because it was shaking so bad."

Pereff reflected on everything her father and grandfather had taught her. She stayed focused and confident. And with one kick, she made history.

"But once I made the point, I just remember thinking 'Yes! I did it!'"

Pereff is one of the boys now, so to speak, and says everyone treats her with respect.

"They just treat me like I'm honestly one of the guys," she said. "But of course like [there are] boundaries, you know."

As for the future, Pereff is looking at a couple of D-1 schools to play soccer and says she won't turn down another chance to hit the football field.

"We'll see where I end up for college soccer," Pereff said. "If I do have the opportunity to maybe kick a few points for whatever college I go to, that would be pretty cool. But we'll see what happens."

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