Young female athletes receive recognition

The Oct. 15 football game between rivals Eldorado and Chaparral high schools came down a final kick in overtime. Tied at 27 in the schools’ biggest game of the year —- the annual “Cleat Game” —- Eldorado’s kicker came on the field for the extra point.

The snap was straight, the hold was good and she drilled it through the uprights.

Chynna Hartmann’s teammates rushed the field and hoisted her onto their shoulders just as the University of Notre Dame players did in the movie “Rudy.”

Hartmann and 38 others were recognized May 25 at the 10th annual Celebration of Young Women Athletes at the Palms. Las Vegas Athletic Clubs sponsored the event.

Families, principals and coaches came to the event to celebrate the outstanding young women and their achievements. Most played at least three sports, and all but a few were National Honor Society members.

The honorees received a plaque, a certificate and a one-year membership to Las Vegas Athletic Clubs. Individual schools were responsible for nominating the athletes.

Hartmann was a four-year varsity soccer player at Eldorado High School, 1139 Linn Lane, and president of the school’s honor society and French club, as well as a volunteer at local charities.

Her friends on the football team invited her to practice one afternoon, and she began kicking field goals for fun. Her foot caught the coach’s eye, and he asked her to join the team as the kicker since it didn’t have one.

Her father, Larry, had concerns about her safety at first.

“But the guys assured me they would take care of her,” Larry Hartmann said. “The coach promised she would only kick field goals and extra points.”

Chynna Hartmann said it didn’t seem to bother anyone on the team and that the players were very protective of her. Her longest field goal of the season was 40 yards.

After winning the big rivalry game, players from both teams shook hands.

“Some of the (Chaparral players) were really mad, and some of them were congratulating me,” Chynna Hartmann said.

She plans to attend Ohio State University in the fall and study physics and engineering.

Another female at the conference who didn’t mind besting the boys was Dana Arce of Clark High School, 4291 Pennwood Ave.

She played volleyball, ran track, cross-country and wrestled in the 103-pound division, finishing the year with an 11-12 record.

“It felt good because you don’t expect a girl to beat a guy,” Arce said. “My guy friends were wrestling, and so one day I just went. It was really hard at first, but I didn’t want to be a quitter. They were surprised when I stuck with it.”

Arce lettered in the sport after two years of competing. She said her wrestling days are probably behind her at this point and that she’s always looking for different activities.

“I like trying new things and doing the best I can,” Arce said, who has trained in karate and taken accordion lessons.

She plans to attend the College of Southern Nevada in the fall and major in engineering.

Nicole Ameli, a senior at Palo Verde High School, 333 S. Pavilion Center Drive, has traveled the world for sport. She represented the United States in fencing tournaments in Canada, Germany, France and Sweden. She has received a fencing scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.

Ameli, who played basketball and ran track and cross-country for her school, is still modest about her accomplishments.

“Oh, my gosh,” Ameli said. “I’m so humbled by this award. There are so many amazing athletes in Las Vegas.”

Las Vegas Athletic Clubs d irector of w omen’s p rogramming Connie Stewart coordinates the event every year.

She came up with the idea a decade ago after attending her son’s high school graduation, where an award was presented to the outstanding male and female athletes at the school.

“I was amazed they were honoring female athletes,” Stewart said. “They didn’t used to do that when I was in school.

“It’s just so important to recognize the youth. These are exemplary students and athletes. This is the cream of the crop, and it’s important to let them know the community appreciates them.”

Stewart said she hopes this kind of recognition will encourage other teenage girls to join athletics because it promotes a healthy lifestyle and academic success.

Tiara Veal, a junior at Sunrise Mountain High School, 2575 Los Feliz St., said participation in basketball, volleyball and track helped her and others keep up on their studies.

“It made me focus more on school,” Veal said. “If you have bad grades, you can’t play.”

Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at jmosier@viewnews.com or 224-5524.

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