TERRE HAUTE —
Dyllanne Deischer didn’t set out to be a pioneer. She wasn’t even sure she was going to be a Miner.
She’s also not the kind of person to go into something halfway, however, which is why a suggestion by her eighth-grade science teacher led to her becoming the first female to be an all-Wabash Valley football player and, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the first to be introduced as a member of a Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association all-star team.
“I’d played soccer for 11 years [in the Greene County recreation league and the Cutters league in Bloomington],” Deischer explained at a WVFCA all-star practice earlier this week. “[Former Linton football] coach [Steve] Weber was my science teacher, and he said maybe I should try kicking a football.”
Deischer, who had been considering transferring to a different school to continue playing soccer, attempted some kicks on her own and had a little success — enough success to prompt her to attend a kicking camp that summer, prior to her freshman year. She had decided not only to be a Miner, but to be a Miner football player.
It’s not a responsibility to be taken lightly, the recently graduated kicker agreed this week. If football is a sport in most Indiana towns, it may rank slightly above religious status in central Greene County. It hardly seemed the place that would welcome a girl player, and Deischer’s first few weeks weren’t promising.
“My first game I went 2 for 7 [on extra points],” she recalled. “My second game was in a rainstorm, and the ball got away from the holder on the snap. I just stood there. Nobody’d told me what to do [if something like that happened] … I didn’t want to play after that.”
Leaving the team was not an option, however — “No way my parents were going to let me quit,” she said — and some special-teams practice solved a lot of her problems.
“I’d been kicking most of the time from a tee,” Deischer noted. “I starting practicing a lot more with a holder and a snapper.”
And before long she learned the benefits of being a member of the Linton football team.
“That first year, I didn’t know anybody,” she said this week, “but once I started making my kicks, [the rest of the team] really warmed up to me.” A moment that embarrasses her to this day, when she retaliated against an opposing player who had tried to knock her down — popped him pretty good, actually — and was penalized for it probably didn’t hurt her standing with the team either.
“After that, the older kids [on the team] wouldn’t let me get hit again,” Deischer said. “There’s nothing in the world like being on the football team in Linton — it’s just a big family.”
Ironically, the success of the Miners’ high-powered offense the past few seasons may have kept Deischer from really showing what she could do. Although she once connected from 42 yards away on a practice field goal attempt and thinks she hit from “36, maybe 37” in a game, she didn’t get that opportunity very often.
“We didn’t kick a lot of field goals,” Deischer noted this week. “A lot of extra points though.”
As those extra points added up, the milestones came.
In October, Deischer became the first female to play football in Lucas Oil Stadium when the Miners met North Central there. Shortly after that she was named Specialist of the Year by the Bloomington Herald-Times.
On Christmas, she was aware the all-Wabash Valley team would be announced in the Tribune-Star.
“My dad told me not to get my hopes up,” she recalled, “but I couldn’t wait for the paper to come … [being named to the team] was the most exciting part of the day for me.”
Her ground-breaking participation in the all-star festivities this week are “exciting, an honor,” she noted. They also mark the end of her kicking career — a career, although she doesn’t mention this herself, that made her high school football’s all-time leading female scorer.
Deischer will be attending Indiana State in the fall, studying a pre-law curriculum with a minor in Spanish. “I want to be an immigration attorney,” she said. In her spare time, she might coach some kickers, and has worked with a couple of them already.
It was pointed out to her that the kicking game hasn’t always been a strength of the Sycamores in recent seasons, but she was having none of that suggestion.
“I have the same kicking coach and the same trainer as [redshirt freshman kicker Eric Heidorn],” Deischer said. “He’s very good. They won’t need me.”