Amira Edwards Makes High School History
Not many players can play two sports in the same season.
Then again, there are not many players such as Amira Elrington-Edwards, who is playing and excelling in both types of football this fall.
Not only does the junior play soccer for the Elmont High School girls soccer team, but she also gets her kicks in another way, as a placekicker, for the varsity football team.
She made headlines recently, kicking extra points for the Elmont football team. That’s gridiron football.
But the Long Island Soccer Club standout probably is more accustomed to the soccer field.
After all, she has been playing the beautiful game for years.
Like many children, Elrington-Edwards tried out several other activities before she discovered her passion and love.
“I actually used to swim competitively,” she said in a recent interview. “And then I kind of just like stopped, I didn’t have any interest in anymore.”
She then tried a year of dance.
“But I didn’t really enjoy that either,” Elrington-Edwards added.
So, Elrington-Edwards decided try her luck and feet at another activity. She joined the Franklin Square Soccer Club when she was around seven years old, and learned and played the sport for about three years. She discovered LISC in its second year of existence and has been playing for the club for the past five years.
Erlington-Edwards also fell in love with the game.
“I love, first of all, the team aspect of the game and just basically having like a second family,” she said. “I’m a very competitive person. Soccer was a great outlet for just me to run around and also have a good time.”
She has enjoyed her experience with the LISC for several reasons.
“The LISC has a great coaching staff and are very supportive and very interested in your well-being as a player, on and off the field and,” Elrington-Edwards said. “I also I just think it’s a competitive environment. On the teams, everybody’s friendly. Everybody looks out for each other. So, it’s just like a good environment overall.”
While she has scored her share of goals and has been a part of several tournament-winning sides, Elrington-Edwards said that playing with LISC has allowed her to grow as a player and as an individual.
Her LISC team is undefeated at four showcases, defeating New England FC, the defending champions, last spring.
“On showcases we do team bonding exercises,” she said. “We went to California. We surfed one day.”
Now, that doesn’t happen every day to a soccer team or player.
“It was definitely different than I anticipated,” Erlington-Edwards said. “It’s a lot harder than it looks. It requires a lot of balance, but it’s definitely fun.”
On Sept. 2, Elrington-Edwards found herself in the spotlight when she became the first female to play and score a point in a varsity football game for a Sewanhaka School District high school. She kicked an extra point in Elmont’s 35-14 home loss to Carey.
Erlington-Edwards had been considering trying out for the football team as kicker for several months, before deciding to take the plunge for this season. Current varsity coach Tommy Innes, then the JV coach and Erlington-Edwards’ AP World History approached her about kicking for his team last year.
“My grandmother, my guardian, was hesitant, because she was worried about me getting injured and hurt,” she said. “I took like, a couple of months to think about it. When he re-approached me, she was ready to let me do it.”
She admitted she was quite anxious at her first training session in August.
“I was definitely nervous because I’m a perfectionist,” Erlington-Edwards said. “Even though it was my first time trying it, I wanted to do well on it.”
And she did.
“I probably kicked about 10 straight field goals and they were all pretty much like down the middle and perfect,” Erlington-Edwards said. “So, it was definitely like an accomplishing feeling. I did it without the block. I just couldn’t because as like a soccer player, I feel kicking with a block just messes up my form.”
Erlington-Edwards definitely found her form in her first game, although she admitted that she was nervous. Elmont scored its first touchdown in the third quarter.
And understandably so.
“I obviously kicked during practice, but in a live situation, it’s completely different,” she said. “I think the best kickers always have the best timing and like the most trust in your teammates. I was worried about the blockers not blocking long enough for me to get to the ball because I am a girl and I do feel like I do have disadvantages per se. I do have to take more steps back to generate as much power as a guy will have. So I kind of got in my head about that. But after I made that first kick and we got the timing right, I saw that my team had my back after that.”
She booted all five of her attempts through the uprights in a 35-13 victory over Sewanhaka on Sept. 14. Entering this weekend’s games Erlington-Edwards has kicked nine extra points in 13 attempts.
Erlington-Edwards is living a double life as an athlete this fall, playing for the football and girls soccer teams.
As captain of the soccer team, her first priority is to train with the squad. But she has found time to attend football practice twice a week.
“It’s definitely taxing on my body just because I’ve had three or four soccer games already this week,” Erlington-Edwards said.
“I do enjoy it because my experience with playing soccer and football on my high school teams is so different,” she added. “I definitely enjoy playing both sports.”
Only once did the teams play on the same day – this past Saturday, when the soccer game began at 10 a.m. and the football team kicked off at 2 p.m. There were mixed results. The Elmont booters played Valley Stream Central to a scoreless draw before kicking two PATs in a 28-0 home win over Roslyn/Friends Academy.
Erlington-Edwards tallied 14 goals and nine assists last year. The Elmont team has struggled this season at 0-7-3 as Elrington-Edwards has recorded a team-high four goals.
She noted that Elmont has many newcomers up from JV.
“We did lose like a key component to our team which was our goalie,” Erlington-Ewards said. “I think we have improved as the season has gone along even though some of the results like our game vs. Carey [a 3-0 loss on Oct. 5] don’t reflect that. But I do think our program is going in a positive direction. We moved up a conference last year and we’re facing better competition. So, I definitely think that will help level we play out.”
When she isn’t kicking the ball for two teams, Erlington-Edwards runs track, as well. She has tackled four runs ata 200, 400, 600 and 800 meters. The multi-faceted junior qualified for the state qualifiers as a freshman and the Nassau County championships as a sophomore.
She might be a three-sport athlete, but Erlington-Edwards hardly has forgotten the academic side. She knows that will open the door for a decent college education and the rest of her life.
Erlington-Edwards doesn’t have to make a decision on a college for at least a year, but she definitely knows what she wants. She said her favorite subjects in school are science and history.
She indicated that she would like to attend a college that will challenge her academically. Erlington-Edwards said that she would like to major in business and finance, and of course, to compete in her favorite sport.
“I definitely want to play collegiately,” she said. “Ideally, I do like to go to school with a high academic level. So, whether that’s D-3 like NYU, or if it’s like D-1 UPenn [University of Pennsylvania]. That’s my main focus – schools with high academic programs.”