Gridiron Girls: Shinn, Lajewski Making History

Kalkaska’s Week 2 win over Mancelona will always be a memorable one for Micah Lajewski, her teammates and those in attendance that Thursday night.

With the Blazers rolling late in the fourth quarter, the Kalkaska senior put the finishing touches on a 39-8 win by becoming the first female in program history to score a touchdown.

"Coach Wilkinson said it, I was in shock, mostly,” Lajewski said. “I couldn’t believe that I scored in a varsity game. But it felt awesome."

An outside linebacker and half back, Lajewski has been playing alongside most of her teammates since elementary school, having picked up the sport in fourth grade with her local Pop Warner football league.

"She was our middle linebacker back in Pop Warner, and she was the hardest hitting person on the team,” Kalkaska senior Jacob Kies said.

A standout on the softball diamond as well as an all-stater on the hardwood, Lajewski bided her time and worked her way up through the JV program to land a varsity roster spot in 2016.

"She fits in great with all of the guys because she’s been doing this so long,” Kalkaska coach Wilkinson said. “She’s been playing for quite a few years. She went up through Pop Warner and everything. It’s just like she’s one of the guys out here. She takes her licks in practice, and keeps on going… We’re not afraid to put her on either side of the ball, and even give her the ball."

At 5-1, Lajewski and the Blazers are off to their best start since 1981 – Kalkaska’s lone undefeated season.

On the shores of Lake Michigan, Ludington senior Mallory Shinn has also found a home on the gridiron.

A year ago, Shinn, who had no football experience outside of playing in the school’s powder puff games, joined Ludington’s varsity program as its placekicker, becoming the first female in school history to do so.

"My first game ever was probably the most memorable. It was against Manistee, at Manistee last year, and I went 3-for-3 on extra points,” Shinn said. “That was pretty exciting.

"I’ve never been coached to kick a field goal. But I kick it pretty much the same way as I would a soccer ball."

President of the school’s National Honor Society, Shinn handles the team’s field goal and extra point duties and has the Orioles off to their best start (5-1) since 1999. 

"She scores a lot of points for us, and they value that. And she’s such a good person,” Ludington coach Charlie Gunsell said. “You know, she doesn’t ask for anything special, because she’s a girl on a football team. She fits right in. Most days we won’t even know that she’s here at practice.

"We trust her inside the thirty. Any time we get inside the 30, the field goal is in play."

Heading into Ludington’s Week 6 win over Muskegon Orchard View, Shinn had connected on 11-of-19 extra point attempts and was 0-for-2 on field goal attempts from 30-39 yards out. 

Shinn and the Orioles are back in action Friday, hosting Baldwin, while Lajewski and Kalkaska welcome in Kingsley.

Categories: Football