Making History at PVHS


Molly Brown

Gnesda warming up during a game against CHS

The PVHS Varsity Football team has welcomed one of the first female kickers, Annika Gnesda. Her recruitment process was nothing short of unordinary. Gnesda relayed the story, “During Sophomore year in PE I started to kick field goals for fun. Tallerico and Goldstein were giving me tips. Goldstein decided to grab Cooley for me, and I thought he was joking, but then he came back with Cooley! They made me kick a few, and after that we started to slowly talk through email and it went from there.” Gnesda was excited to join the team, even if it was from the most unexpected of circumstances.

Varsity Head Coach, Mark Cooley saw her talent and knew she would be an accessory to the team. Cooley stated, “Annika is willing to try new things, especially her willingness to become a kicker for the football team,” Cooley knew Gnesda would be an asset to the team.

Gnesda practiced all through the summer, and with a delayed season due to COVID-19, she became even more prepared to compete. Gnesda said, “I got to have a lot more training time to slowly develop more, I had more training days to slowly get into it. If I didn’t I would probably be a little less than I am now.” Her past experiences playing soccer also helped her, but not as much as one would think. Gnesda explained, “Soccer does help with the snap of my leg, but the form and the shape of the ball is very different,” nevertheless, soccer did give her a leg up in joining the football team.

PVHS had a game against Chico High School on April 9. Gnesda made her first appearance on the field, scoring a field goal for the team. “It felt very exciting. I was nervous at first, but got the adrenaline rush after that!”

Gnesda feels that being one of the few females to ever be on the PVHS football team is huge. “I definitely feel it has caught the eye of some of the people. There have been a lot more girls showing up to the football games recently, especially my teammates from my soccer team for support. It has brought out a bit of different people than are normally here.” Gnesda’s appearance on the field is bringing out a new and different group of people to the football games.

Not only does Gnesda feel her presence on the team as something empowering for the PVHS community, Cooley also understands the importance of her role on the team. Cooley said, “By having Annika on the team, we can make the culture at PV that much better, by including people from everywhere.” Gnesda helps to open the door for future female athletes at PVHS, and increase inclusivity within the community built at PVHS.

Gnesda waiting to go in to play (Molly Brown)

Teammates of Gnesda all show appreciation for her on the team. Not one interviewed had distaste of her involvement on the team. The powerful addition of Gnesda has been smooth. Junior Troy Kight said, “I think the intensity is even better when there is a female on the team. It gives you balance, she can do anything that we can.” Gnesda adds a level of competition among the team that is appreciated.

Fellow kicker, Gabe Estabrook stated, “It’s good to have a girl there, have the experience of someone else playing football because not many people get the chance to. It’s great to have her!” Gnesda imparts a new perspective for the team, and shows them a new experience football can give to others.

Gnesda can feel the love from her team. “They have been very supportive. At first I was nervous how they would treat me because I am the only girl on the team, but I slowly earned their respect. They are very kind, they are like my family.” Being a part of the football team at PVHS is a great way for Gnesda to create more connections on campus to strengthen the community at PVHS.

Gnesda has high hopes for her position on the team next year, “I plan on definitely playing next year. As far as I know, I’m set. It is still going to be a competition though, there’s always going to be someone trying to kick up on my butt!” Although she feels confident, there is still some uncertainty of who may come up behind her!

Catch Gnesda at the next game for the Vikings Varsity Football team away at Chico High School, Friday April 30, at 7:30 p.m. against the rival Panthers!