Girls' soccer player gets her kicks on gridiron

Alex Wertman practices kicking the football into a soccer net. Most days are full ones for the Phoenixville senior, who is also active in non-sports pursuits. STEVEN J. FALK / Staff
Alex Wertman practices kicking the football into a soccer net. Most days are full ones for the Phoenixville senior, who is also active in non-sports pursuits. STEVEN J. FALK / Staff
Posted: September 28, 2013

It is quarter after 6 on a weekday morning, and like most days, Alex Wertman is already up.

The Phoenixville senior has a lot to do before she leaves the house in order to get to school by 7.

Wertman is a member of the National Honor Society, student government, and several other clubs, meaning she has a meeting almost every single day before homeroom.

One look at her trunk tells only half the story of how busy Wertman is.

Two large plastic containers, filled with extra clothes and equipment, sit in the trunk of her Jeep. One bin is filled to the brim with cleats, socks, and sneakers. The other holds shoulder pads and two pairs of football pants.

Wertman is a defender for the Phantoms soccer team. She's also a first-year kicker on the football squad.

Her journey as a placekicker began during last year's powder puff football game, when Phoenixville football coach Bill Furlong discovered Wertman's powerful foot. He was impressed and asked her during gym class if she would be interested in playing for him her senior year.

"Are you kidding?" Wertman thought before she reconsidered.

After talking it over with soccer coach Tim Raub, she started going to spring practices with the football team and training with her friend Cole Luzins, another kicker for the Phantoms.

Slowly she found that kicking a field goal was nothing like taking a set piece in soccer.

"Alex is one of the hardest workers. She really, really, really puts her heart and soul into what she does," Raub said.

"She's an intriguing kid, a funny kid," Raub added. "There is nothing impossible with Alex. You never want to doubt her. She is going to do it if she says she is doing something."

At first, Wertman was frustrated. She thought she had put so much hard work and effort into becoming a good kicker but had yet to play in a game.

And then lightning struck, literally. Earlier this month, storms pushed a Thursday game to a Friday that Luzins had already planned for college visits. Wertman was left as Phoenixville's main kicker.

Her first extra-point attempt was going to be a fake, until a 5-yard penalty forced the Phantoms to change their plans. Off-guard and suddenly nervous, Wertman banged the attempt off the upright, and walked to the sidelines "crushed."

After the Phantoms failed at a two-point conversion later in the game, it was Wertman's chance again, and when her kick sailed through the uprights it was the first point converted by a female in Pioneer Athletic Conference history.

When the team bus returned from Owen J. Roberts, Wertman was greeted by her soccer teammates.

"It's absolutely unreal," Wertman said. "I got off that bus, and they were chanting my name. The boys were so jealous. It makes me feel so much better about doing this. Having them to back me up makes me feel invincible."

On Friday, Wertman will go to school at her normal time before the soccer team heads to Boyertown. After the game she will change into her football gear on the field and ride the bus back in her shoulder pads. She will likely make it just in time for the pregame speech in the locker room.

She won't get home until after 10. It will have been a long day, full of meetings, schoolwork, a league soccer contest, and a home football game.

You would think she'd have a little time to herself, an opportunity to rest.

But no, she has soccer practice at 7 a.m. Saturday.


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