Tough little girl joins tough little boys in football

The Langdon Elementary football program has a new recruit in the form of Claire Hiltner, daughter of Missy and Wayne Hiltner.

Claire Hiltner

Posted on 9/27/14

By Melissa Anderson

For the past two years Claire has wanted to play football and this past summer she finally convinced her parents to let her try.

“We didn’t encourage her at all.  In fact, I discouraged her all summer, hoping she would change her mind” Missy Hiltner said.

“The more I tried to discouraged her, the more she was determined to play” Hiltner added.

Claire Hiltner isn’t the first girl to play football at the elementary level. A few years ago Gretta Haslekaas played in the Langdon Elementary football program.

Claire isn’t the only girl playing in the league either. Another girl plays on the North Border team.

“I was up against her on the line and we played the game. We met her mom after the game and she was very nice” Claire said.

For Claire and her dad Wayne, football is a way of life with games continually on TV at their house every Monday, Thursday, and Sunday.

“I would get into it, I started learning how the game was played“ Claire stated.

Claire’s teammates had to adjust to having a girl on the team but now consider her as one of the guys.

“In the beginning they were kind of skeptical, but they got over it and treated me just like all the other players” Claire said.

“The first day of practice a boy told me “girls can’t play football” but it went in one ear and out the other” Claire added.

Her coaches, Tyler Fiest, Marty Tetrault and Greg Goodman see her as just one of the guys as well.

“Claire fits in nicely. She practices hard and she plays hard just like the rest of them” Tetrault said.

The coaches encourage all their players and if other girls were interested in playing see no reason why they shouldn’t.

“The more numbers the better” Fiest said.

Claire currently plays the line but would like to play at the wide receiver position. She hopes to be able to play at the high school level when she gets older.

“I don’t know if my parents will let me” Claire said.

Rich Rogers, the Athletic Director for Langdon Area High School, sees no reason why Claire wouldn’t be able to be on the high school football team so long as Claire has her parents permission. Last year, seven girls participated in high school football programs across the state.

“Each player earns their playing time” Rogers said.

For Claire, who doesn’t have time to worry about getting hurt, playing football is her goal and she isn’t discouraged when  her opponents single her out.

“They go for me hard, and when they can’t get past me, they get really mad” Claire said.

Worry over their daughter getting injured while playing was one of the main concerns for Missy and Wayne Hiltner when Claire first started playing.

“I thought, “they are going to cream my little girl!” Then after the first game, a mom from another team came over to Claire and said, “Good game, I was so worried you were going to cream my little boy!” “ Missy shared.

Missy and Wayne Hiltner have had a lot of comments from the community and other teams for letting their daughter play football with the boys.

“We have had lots of feedback about Claire playing, most have been very positive and encouraging to her. “ Missy said.

Watching a girl on a football field play is still strange sight for many fans but if Claire Hiltner has her way, Langdon football will have a player with a long red ponytail until she graduates.