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Lee Vining Girl Earns a Place on the Line : Football: Playing on offense, defense and special teams, Andreas is a unanimous all-league choice in eight-man game.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Football was not in Rebecca Andreas’ future.

At least, that’s what she told herself after quitting the Lee Vining High team when she found the going was tough.

Her teachers and friends talked her into giving it another try, but the new coach wasn’t convinced. He said he thought she would be too fragile.

It took only two days of practice to change his mind.

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That was last year.

This year, Ed Blankenship isn’t the only coach whose mind has been changed. Andreas was unanimously voted first team all-league by the four coaches of the Hi-Lo League in the Small Schools Division. She is believed to be the first female non-kicker to earn such an honor in the Southern Section.

A 16-year-old junior, Andreas not only was a left guard on offense this season, but also played on the defensive line and special teams for the eight-man team.

Lee Vining is a small community about 30 miles north of Mammoth. Baker Valley of Baker, Owens Valley in Independence, and Immanual Christian of Ridgecrest are the other schools in the league.

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“Playing defense is fun . . . at least this year it has been,” Andreas said. “Tackling is the most fun. . . . It feels like you’re really doing something for the team, not just waiting for something to happen.”

Blankenship says that although Andreas’ speed is average, she has come a long way in her second season.

“She is strong, and because of that she’s able to put her 148 pounds into someone and make it mean something,” Blankenship said.

Andreas stands 5 feet 6 and is still growing. Her coach says that with the level of intensity she displays on the field, he has little doubt she could make the grade at a junior college in a few years.

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“If she keeps up with the level of play I have seen since I’ve been here, she could possibly play at Sierra (Junior College),” he said.

She says that her strongest points are her ability to read runners in pursuing a tackle and her blocking strength.

The coach does not quite agree.

“Her strongest point is her determination to be consistent,” Blankenship said. “I can’t recall one time in looking at film or otherwise, that she made a serious error.”

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Andreas, a Paiute Indian, lives with her grandmother and has the support of family and friends in playing such a physical sport. She also plays basketball and softball for Lee Vining.

“I started playing flag football in junior high and (the interest) just grew from there,” she said. “I want to prove, especially to the other team, that I can block and tackle as good as anyone else.”

The Tigers went 1-7 this season, beating only Immanual Christian. But with no graduating players, Blankenship says his team will be ready to prove something to the rest of the league.

“I have 12 returning players and should get a few additions for next year,” he said. “I’m confident we’ll have a much better season.”

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Although Andreas plays on three teams, she has managed to remain an honor-roll student with a 3.3 grade-point average.

“Playing at a junior college would be tough,” she said. “It’s still a long way off and I haven’t even thought about it yet.”

In looking far ahead, though, she says she would like to pursue a coaching career.

Meanwhile, her coach is convinced that she would make a great tight end or running back next season.

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“I’d love to run the ball, anything where I can show that I can play the game well, I’ll do it,” Andreas said.

Making such an adjustment on the team could pose problems unless Blankenship can find an alternate.

“She can catch well,” he said. “I’d like to have her run the ball next year, but that means finding someone as qualified to fill her position, which won’t be an easy thing to do.”


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