From P.E. to Varsity - Abbie Wiggins takes unlikely path to the football field
Sep 26, 2018 01:25PM
● By Jana Klopsch
Abbie Wiggins kicks a P.A.T. after an Alta touchdown. (Justin Adams)
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
A few weeks into the school year, the P.E. class taught by Alta football head coach Alema Te’o was playing kickball. One student caught his eye: Abbie Wiggins.
“She was booming it. She was kicking it all over the place,” recalled Te’o.
“I said to her, ‘Have you ever kicked a football before?’”
“How about you come out and kick the football and see what you think.”
Abbie agreed, and within a week the freshman was at the sophomore football team’s practice donning a helmet and knocking field goals through the uprights from 20+ yards out.
“I liked the feel of it, so I just decided to do it,” said Wiggins.
Wiggins, who plays on a competitive soccer team, is the first in her family to set foot on a football field.
“She’s learning the sport as she goes,” said Julie Wiggins, Abbie’s mom, as she watched her daughter play in her first sophomore game against Weber High.
“I’m definitely more nervous than her,” she added. (Every time Alta scored, Julie didn’t join the rest of the crowd in cheering because that meant it was time to worry that her daughter might get smashed by an incoming blocker.)
Her dad, Nathan, said that at least as far as athletics go, Abbie has always been willing to try new things as she’s also played volleyball and basketball in the past.
After that first sophomore game, Abbie told the Sandy Journal that she was a little nervous going into the game, but loved it as soon as she got on the field and kicked her first extra point.
Being a kicker for a football team is no easy job. You sit on the sideline for most of the game, and are then expected to come out and perform, often in pressure-filled situations. But Abbie said she takes that as an opportunity.
“The moments I’m on the field I really want to do my best, because they’re limited,” said Wiggins.
In those limited moments, Abbie did her job. In her first game action, she made almost all of her attempts.
“I’m very impressed with her ability to handle the pressure. She’s very mentally tough,” said Te’o.
A couple weeks later when the varsity team’s kicker went down with an injury, coach Te’o knew exactly who to go to.
“We had some guys that we could put in, but none that are consistent. So I said, ‘Hey Abbie, you’re up.’”
So Abbie made her varsity debut as a freshman, just a few weeks after having kicked a football for the first time. The game ended up being a blowout for Alta as the Hawks got into the endzone nine times, giving Abbie plenty of chances to kick P.A.T.’s, of which she made all but one.
So if you notice a player on Alta’s sideline who looks a little smaller and sports bright pink soccer cleats and a blonde ponytail escaping from their helmet, don’t worry, it’s just freshman kicking phenom Abbie Wiggins.