Before his Week 2 game at Overbook, Deptford Township High School football coach Al Orio was approached by his first-year kicker.
No, kicking left-footed wasn’t an option this week. Orio knew about the injury and had prepared to run two-point plays. But the senior was perfectly capable of attempting all kicks that night … right-footed.
“What?!” Orio said in mild disbelief.
The team didn’t have any time to practice; the game was about to start. But his kicker, Angelina Schilling, the second female kicker in the history of the Spartans football program, knocked through two of her four attempts that night in a 32-6 victory.
A week earlier Schilling, who will play Division-I soccer next fall at Youngstown State University, went 5-for-5 in extra-point attempts and also nailed a 22-yard field goal in Deptford’s season-opening 44-6 win over Cherry Hill East. All with her left foot.
“I’ve always said in soccer that my right foot is my finesse and my left foot is my powerhouse,” she said. “And the football kick is all about finesse.”
Schilling opted to switch feet for football because of a mild hip injury from soccer. But, hold on a second: Why is Schilling, an elite soccer player, playing football this fall? Before the summer the rising senior had to make a decision: take an opportunity to play for her club team, SJB Rush, in Development Academy soccer, or finish her high school career with Deptford’s team.
Ang Schilling…10 points to help us start 2-0…kicking with both legs…Big part of the Deptford football family… pic.twitter.com/wdJZ2hVtJ7
— DTHS FOOTBALL (@DTHSFOOTBALL) September 14, 2019
She opted for the more competitive Academy soccer to help prep for collegiate career. As for adding football to an already busy schedule that includes playing soccer six days a week, often traveling outside the area in the process?
“It was something I always thought about doing,” said Schilling, who once turned a 52-yard free-kick into a goal as a freshman in soccer. “And I was just looking at it as getting myself better, they have great agility and strength coaches (in football) … and that was something I knew I needed to do to get to the next level. So I took this as an opportunity to get bigger, stronger, and also do something fun.”
Coming from a family that’s embedded in the school district — her parents, John and Sharon Schilling, and her grandmother, Joanne Renner, all worked in Deptford schools — Schilling still wanted to contribute to her high school’s teams in her senior year. So she asked one of her three younger brothers to take some video of her mock-field goal kicking in the family’s backyard, sent it to Orio, and here we are.
Schilling is the first female kicker at Deptford since Samantha Dimitri became the first female to score a point in South Jersey football history in 2009.
“I’ll be honest with you —she could also play receiver for us,” said Orio, who has also coached softball in his career. “She’s like Sam. When we kick off and I tell her to run out of bounds, she says no. She went through tackling drills, we taught her how to tackle. So she’s prepared. Her parents don’t like it, but that’s OK. She’s an athlete. I’ve learned over the years with coaching girls: treat them as athletes, not as girls. They respect that and they perform; that’s what she does.”
South Jersey Sports Weekly: What did your parents say when you told them you’d be playing football?
Angelina Schilling: My parents are probably the most supportive people that I could ever have. When they heard me say it, of course they’re like, are you sure, we don’t want you to get hurt, all of that. But they only ever have supported me. Even my grandma was so scared — “I’m not coming, I don’t want to watch you,” but she was still there. I knew that was going to happen.
SJSW: And you’re the oldest, with three younger brothers? So I assume this is helping you be a role model to them?
Schilling: I’m definitely someone they look up to And I think I’ve put a lot of mindsets into their heads about not only what girls can do, but what anyone can do. If they wanted to be the best field hockey player, if they wanted to take up sewing, it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl, whether your family wants you to do it or not, you put yourself into whatever you want to do and you work the hardest … that’s a mindset I’m giving them.
Deptford Senior Angelina Schilling is the #NFL Way to Play award winner!@CarliLloyd @gmfb @DTHSFOOTBALL @DTHS_Athletics @Eagles @MrJeffLebb @TroyVincentSr @kminnicksports @McGurkSports @HSSportsNJ @Mtrible @angeschilling pic.twitter.com/MU5ODArjMp
— Deptford Schools (@deptford_twp) September 14, 2019
SJSW: What do you think of your celebrity status? [Laughs]. I saw on NFL Network you were honored as the Way to Play winner. I know a bunch of other media outlets have told your story lately …
Schilling: Yeah, it’s cool. However I think the team’s value is most important. Anytime anyone asks me about (any sport), I tell them I can’t be out there without my time, I can’t get points if they don’t score touchdowns. That’s how it is in a team sport. No matter how great any individual is, you’re team is who is around you… so they deserve more credit than I do, especially the coaches.
SJSW: Despite an entire new coaching staff, Deptford is off to a 2-0 start. What’s working so well?
Schilling: The work that we put it over the summer. They said it was 10 times harder than what they’d put in anytime before. (Coach Orio’s) mentality and his goal for football is for it to be bigger than football, for players to learn about life. … And it’s a really good senior class. They haven’t really figured out that they are leaders yet, but they are, and I think they will when we get into hard times.
SJSW: Who is the best athlete on the football team?
Schilling: Jamir Robinson, our quarterback.
SJSW: Does he play any other sports?
Schilling: No, but he should. [Laughs]
SJSW: Who is the best athlete at the school?
Schilling: Can I say myself? I mean I’ve now played football, basketball, soccer, I ran track freshman year. The only reason I stopped that was because soccer got too crazy. I don’t think I know anyone that competitively plays more than two sports. So I have to give some credit to myself. [Laughs].
SJSW: Who is the best scholar athlete?
Schilling: In the school right now? Probably me also. Last year we had a really smart girl, Katie Morrison. She’s at Kean University now. But I’d say myself as well.
SJSW: What classes are you taking now?
Schilling: Last year I took six AP (courses) and maintained it with everything. This year I do a dual college thing, I’m at the college taking some, English, Sociology, and I’m in the engineering program here.
SJSW: What are you going to study at Youngstown State?
Schilling: Nuclear Engineering.
SJSW: Who is your favorite teacher at Deptford?
Schilling: That’s a really tough question. I would say every single teacher in this school has done something amazing, whether for me or for someone I know. Every teacher here, no matter if you’ve been in the school for (a while) or you just got here, every day the teachers make the kids feel at home. And the administration, too.
SJSW: What sports did your parents play?
Schilling: My mom played basketball and ran cross country, my dad was soccer for a little and then cross country. They both ran at Rowan.
SJSW: Should Carli Lloyd be given a shot as a pro football kicker?
Schilling: Yeah! She’s definitely one of my biggest role models, the entire Women’s (National) team of course. In the past they really were role models to me as a little girl. They inspired me when I was younger. That you can be a great person and a great soccer player.
SJSW: Do you think the NFL will ever have a woman kicker?
Schilling: I don’t mean to discredit myself, but would my story have gotten as popular if I was a male kicker? No. And, is there male kickers in the world better than my kicking? Yeah, for sure. A male can usually become stronger than a female, no matter how hard she tries. Unless the spot specifically is won by that woman … but you never know. I wouldn’t ever want to shoot anyone down. If someone wants to, they should be able to (compete). People keep asking me if I got a (football) scholarship for college, would I go kick? My answer is no because I want to play soccer. But I’ve had girls direct message me on Instagram, girls that are just kickers and not soccer players. So if they did well enough to go and get recruited in college and go on, I don’t see why they can’t.
SJSW: What’s your favorite thing to do outside of sports?
Schilling: The beach. My grandma lives in Wildwood. But any beach.
SJSW: Are you binge-watching anything on TV?
Schilling: I don’t have the time. [Laughs] I don’t remember the last time I put on the TV.
SJSW: How about a book you’d recommend?
Schilling: I’m reading this book called “Circle.” It’s a Greek mythology book. One thing I’ve done this year is I’ve taken the initiative to enjoy reading again. In the first few years of high school you’re reading so much for English class, you don’t really read for fun … so I’m really getting back to that now.
SJSW: Do you have a personal motto?
Schilling: I don’t want people to tell me I can’t do something. … I’d rather prove you wrong than never try. That will always be my mindset. There is no limit to what people can do. You just have to try.
SJSW: If we’re at a state championship game and you got to pick your walk-up music, what would you pick?
Schilling: Feel Good (Good as Hell), by Lizzo.