Cal Lu’s first female football player reflects on growth

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Cal Lutheran’s first female football player said the role has helped her grow in many ways and is prepared for a career in sports.

Madisyn Morin, Reporter

Coming to California Lutheran University four years ago, Morgan Salzwedel had her eyes set on one goal–soccer.

During Salzwedel’s first year on Regals Junior Varsity Soccer team, she found herself wanting more and reached out to the Kingsmen Football coaches in the middle of her freshman year, asking if they needed any help on the team.

After speaking with Ben McEnroe, head coach of the Kingsmen Football team, Salzwedel tried out for the team. At the time the football team was in the middle of their season but welcomed Salzwedel to be their new kicker.

“Growing up, I have always been an athlete, it is something that I am comfortable doing,” Salzwedel said in a Zoom interview. “I like the challenge while being able to get stronger.”

Salzwedel said that she had never played football until her sophomore year in high school. She said her friends convinced her to try out for the football team as a kicker and she has played ever since. When she graduated from high school, she thought that would be the end of her football career.

Through her time on the football team and being a student-athlete at Cal Lutheran, Salzwedel said she realized that she is capable of so much and can do anything she puts her mind to.

In her spare time she was a recreation intern, running the Cal Lutheran intramural sports teams for two years, and also had an unpaid internship her freshman year with Athletic Director Dan Kuntz.

Salzwedel was also an event intern for the San Francisco 49ers.

“I think I’ve gained a different level of confidence in myself, seeing how much I have grown throughout college,” Salzwedel said.

In a phone interview, Cal Lutheran Kingsmen Football alumnus, Tre Jackson said he feels it’s important to try new things and having a woman on the football team was a great move for Cal Lutheran.

“I think seeing women on the football team will inspire everyone that’s into competitive sports. Women and men. The old and new generation,” Jackson said.

McEnroe said in a Zoom interview that Salzwedel is a fierce competitor and doesn’t want to be treated differently because she is the only woman on the team.

“She doesn’t want to be looked at as a girl football player, she wants to be looked at as a member of the Cal Lutheran football team,” McEnroe said. “I appreciate and really respect that about her.”

McEnroe said Salzwedel’s teammates care about her and care for her. He said she has earned a lot of respect as a competitor and teammate and that she doesn’t crave attention; she just wants to be a part of the team and help them win games.

“It’s been a real blessing to have her in the program all these years,” McEnroe said.

McEnroe said her teammates would go out of their way to make accommodations for her.

“At times, I would walk into the locker room and there would be like four guys dressing in a corner with their backs turned and she would be there taking care of business getting ready to play a football game,” McEnroe said.

Since the pandemic started, many student-athletes’ seasons have quickly come to an end. Salwedel said it has been hard for her this year since COVID-19 has changed her senior year at Cal Lutheran.

“I worked so hard the last three years to get to a position, to finally really feel comfortable and then it got taken away,” Salzwedel said.

She said her time at home helped her realize how many things she couldn’t be in control of and made her thankful for the time she has spent at Cal Lutheran.

As a communication major with a minor in sports management, Salzwedel hopes to work in San Francisco while building her career in the sports management field. Salzwedel has applied to University of San Francisco’s Master in Sports Management program and hopes to go there once she graduates.

As Salzwedel retires her jersey, she looks forward to her future in sports and is thankful for her time at Cal Lutheran. 

“I think having a woman on the football team is beyond incredible,” Jackson said. “Young kids will have a story to go by for when they’re older and I think that is a beautiful thing.”