Soroco senior learns toughness from being only female on football team, enlists in Navy | SteamboatToday.com

Soroco senior learns toughness from being only female on football team, enlists in Navy

Soroco senior Grace Beaty plays defensive end and nose guard for the varsity football team. She believes football helped her realize she was tough enough to enlist in the navy. (Photo by Leah Vann)

OAK CREEK — Soroco High School senior Grace Beaty’s parents have a rule: if you join a sport, you can’t quit.

At 5 feet, 2 inches tall and 149 pounds, Beaty said after her freshman year, she would join the high school football team.

“Everyone was like, ‘I'd love to see you try to pull that one off,'” Beaty said. “And I was like, ‘OK.'”

Beaty wears a prideful smirk when she tells that story. It’s her third year on the team now.

Soroco football

Aug. 24: vs. South Park, W 60-38
Sept. 1: at Sangre de Cristo, W 60-20
Sept. 8: at Justice, W  64-16
Sept. 22: at Gilpin County, W 54-8
Sept. 28: vs. Plateau Valley, W 64-46
Oct. 5: at Vail Christian, L 74-66
Oct. 12: vs. Rangely, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19: at West Grand, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26: vs. Hayden, 7 p.m.

Her mom, Stacey Logan, was against it at first, but she knew Beaty wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

“I had a son too and I didn't want him to get hurt any more than I want her to get hurt,” Logan said. “She's pretty tough. I always wanted to support and encourage whatever they wanted to do even if I don't always feel comfortable with it.”

Beaty calls herself a born Bronco fan. She’s been watching the Broncos since she was little and playing football in the front yard with her brother and former Soroco football player, Chance Beaty, 21, and her younger cousin, Bradley, 13.

As a girl, Beaty thought that her path was to play kicker, and that’s what she initially joined as. But there was one problem.

“I suck at kicking,” Beaty said. “I tried it because my first year my dad was like, ‘Don't put her in a position where she'll get hurt,’ and yeah that was not working out so well.”

In an offseason scrimmage that spring, Beaty tried defensive line and fell in love with it. She went to football camp at the University of Northern Colorado with the rest of the team to improve her skills.

And the memory of her first football camp is one of head coach Dick Dudas’ favorites.

“In a blocking drill couple years ago, she pancaked a guy from North Park,” Dudas said. “And we were all laughing, we said, ‘Grace, you've ruined this kid for the rest of his life, getting pancaked by girl.'”

Although she’s not a starter, Beaty has seen playing time in four varsity games and one junior varsity game this year. She tends to fill in for anyone who is out with an injury or taking a water break.

That’s how she ended up in a critical fourth-down play against Sangre de Cristo. Beaty had been in on the previous play, but her sub at nose guard was still taking a water break when the whistle blew.

The Thunderbirds were going for it on fourth and maybe an inch. Seniors Jace Logan and Jesse Amrein told Beaty to take out the 6-feet-6-inch, 320-pound center from the knees.

Soroco senior Grace Beaty pictured with senior Jace Logan (left) and senior Jesse Amrein (right) at football practice on Aug. 22 at Soroco High School. (Leah Vann)

She took out the center’s knees and the guard next to him, creating a hole for the linebackers to jump over and attack the potential quarterback sneak.

The Thunderbirds’ quarterback scrambled to the outside, only to be tackled for a one-yard loss.

“The last person to get up from the pile was Grace.” Dudas said.

Beaty is the smallest on the team, by far, and last year, it was her job to square up against the big guys. As a member of the scout team, she lined up against 6-feet-4-inch, 200-pound Schuyler Carlson every day at practice.

“He was the first guy to ever tackle me,” Beaty said. “He came after me like I was Jace Logan and I got up with mud and grass in my helmet. I was like,  ‘Ok, if that's how it's going to be, let's do it.'”

It’s the toughness Beaty knew she needed when she set her sights on joining the Navy.

“I love the water and always have since I was little and the Navy travels more than any other branches,” Beaty said. “I needed to toughen up a little bit more in order to do something like that and football really helped me.”

Beaty enlisted two weeks ago after taking her pre-screening, computer-adaptive test and medical physical. She’ll start attending delayed entry program meetings in Denver next week. The meetings take place every two to three weeks until she’s shipped out June 4, 10 days after she graduates high school.

“A lot of it is a little scary, but I’m mostly very proud of her,” Logan said. “When she makes up her mind about something, that's what she does.”

Joining the Navy, like joining the football team, is Beaty’s dream. She’s now the first female to play and letter in football at Soroco High School.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations for 2017-18 school year, there were 108 girls nationwide playing 8-man football and Colorado had eight of those girls.

One of those girls was Grace, and there’s one more waiting in the wings in middle school for her shot at the high school team in Soroco.

“As long as she is like Grace, there won't be any problem.” Dudas said.

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To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email lvann@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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