Earning the title of captain was something Salt River High School (SRHS) senior Taneasha Thomas had been working for since the end of last season as a member of the varsity football team; but for her teammate Hoss Smith, it wasn’t a surprise he was chosen as a captain this season, since he was also team captain as a junior.
Thomas has been playing football for the past three seasons and is currently the only girl on the SRHS Eagles team. She said she initially was enticed to play because she was looking to try something new.
“I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it really is,” she said. “I have a little bit of ability to do what they do, and I can come out here and do it.”
Thomas believes the biggest improvement she has made since she began her football career is her confidence, but she added that her talent has improved and her overall skills have developed over the past three seasons. Playing special teams for the Eagles is no easy task, but Thomas said she likes the pressure.
“I am always worried about not getting my block or running too slow and not getting there in time,” she said.
Going up against all male players is not intimidating to Thomas. She said she does not think most opponents even know she is a female. But once they find out, they really “take it to her.”
“No one wants to be embarrassed by a girl, so they play a lot tougher on me,” she said.
Thomas said after being selected as captain she realized Head Coach Troy Head cares and notices she is not one of the players messing around on the sidelines.
“I am dedicated to the team, perform the best I can and take care of my responsibilities, and I think coach (Head) recognizes that,” Thomas said.
Academics come easy to Thomas, and she decided to begin taking classes at Scottsdale Community College while still in high school. She said academics are her main focus, but football also takes up a great deal of her time.
Because Thomas shines in the academic area, she is able to assist her teammates during study hall.
“This is more of my captain role, because I am not going to be the one yelling, but I can help out with their schoolwork and make sure they are doing the right things during school,” she said.
Smith said study hall is very important to each individual player on the team.
“Some of these guys only do homework here in study hall,” he said.
Football used to be Smith’s main sport, but now he said wrestling is his biggest focus. Getting in shape and doing what he needs to do to be competitive on the field is why Smith continues to play football.
“The best part about being out here is spending time with the guys and having fun,” he said.
Smith said teaching the young guys is something he likes to do, but having the title of captain can be hectic at times.
“I enjoy taking on the responsibility and like the challenge,” he said.
After suffering a big loss to Valley Lutheran in their second game, Smith said there was a lot to learn from, and the players have focused on building their skills as a team and apply them to both practices and games.