PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) — Footballs and crowns may seem like a odd pairing, but that’s just a day in the life of Palm Harbor University High School student Esther Breitling.
Breitling plays cornerback and wide receiver on the school’s football team and was recently named homecoming queen.
Speaking to reporters at practice on Thursday, Breitling said she’s always been passionate about football, but lacked the bravery to take up the male-dominated sport.
“God kind of gave me the courage to play it,” Breitling said. “If it wasn’t for God, then I probably wouldn’t play football at all.”
And with a little encouragement from her friend, Michael – who was named homecoming king – Breitling tried out for the team. She shared some words of wisdom for girls who may be afraid to tackle new challenges.
“I would tell people not to be afraid to walk through those new doors,” Breitling said. “Don’t be discouraged if they don’t go the way you plan. God has a bigger plan and a bigger picture, so eventually all the hard work and the determination and faith you have will go to something much greater.”
Breitling said her father didn’t realize she was playing tackle football when she joined the team, since the word “football” refers to soccer in most of the world.
“He came to the first game and he saw a bunch of the football players walking out. He was like, ‘Um, I think I’m at the wrong game. Are you sure we’re in the right place?’,” Breitling recalled. “And my mom was like, ‘Yes we are,’ and she pointed me out. He said, ‘You’re joking.’ I think he almost had a heart attack in the stands.”
Breitling’s fellow players treat her like any other member of the team. She said the boys don’t make her feel singled out and they support her if she stumbles.
“They help me, they teach me when I need to learn,” Breitling said. “They don’t make fun of me if I make mistakes. They help me and show me where I can improve in certain areas.”
Learning she was named homecoming queen was “a surreal moment” and “a true blessing,” according to Breitling. She said it was amazing to be crowned alongside a close friend.
“He’s been walking through many trials and tribulations with me,” Breitling said. “Seeing him get it as well was so fulfilling because it’s such an achievement. It’s something you get once in your lifetime.”
Breitling is currently studying bio-medicine. After graduation, she wants to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point or the Coast Guard Academy.