Despite being a member of the Steinert Spartans football team, Sam Portella has yet to make an impact on the varsity field.

The sophomore is the team’s backup kicker and hasn’t cracked the starting lineup. Although Portella’s name hasn’t appeared on a stat sheet, her off-the-field influence is what’s truly inspiring.

Portella is a former soccer player who has converted to football kicker. After head football coach Dan Caruso witnessed Portella strike a soccer ball, he contacted her about switching to kicking pigskins.

Portella was timid upon receiving an invitation to become the only female on the varsity football team. “Initially I was scared,” Portella admitted.

Once arriving on the field, her trepidation disappeared.

“During the first practice the entire football team was friendly towards me,” Portella explained. “All the players watched me kick and instantly gave me high-fives… They could not have been more supportive.” One of Portella’s teammates implementing unconditional support is star wide receiver, and team leader Jordan Morrison.

“Having Sam on the team is an eye-opening experience since I never played with a female on the field before,” said the University of Connecticut committ.

“Although she’s a female, that doesn’t mean much to us. We all treat her with respect and she’s apart of our family.

The Steinert community has allowed Portella’s concerns about being a female kicker to be nonexistent.

“The most rewarding part has been the amount of support I have, Portella said. “I have made so many new friends, and all the football guys have my back.”

With a complete support system behind her, Portella has been perfecting her craft for two months straight.

The sophomore can now nail a 35-yard field goal (with room to spare).

With Steinert’s starting kicker having injury concerns heading into this Friday’s matchup against Princeton, Portella is the “next man up.”

“I’ll be fairly nervous … I do well under pressure though, I will be ready,” she said.

Whatever the outcome of her first varsity appearance, Portella has no regrets about joining the football team.

“Overall I’ve become more confident with myself as a person,” Portella stated.

Based on her experience, Portella has nothing but encouragement for other females considering integrating themselves into male-dominated sports.

“Just go for it, it has tremendous rewards, a girl can do anything a guy can.”

Photos: Amanda Ruch