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Making a difference

by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor

When flag football was introduced to the high school’s a couple years back it gave the girls the chance to prove to everyone just what they were made of.

For Pioneer High School’s Jayden Leederman it gave her a chance to continue to play a sport that she has played since she was a little girl. For six years, Leederman played tackle football, so this was an opportunity to get back on the field.

Just in a different form.

“I had so much excitement being able to play football,” stated Leederman. “I used to play tackle football for six years when I was younger, so being able to go out on a field and play a similar format was really exciting for me.

While she has played football before, flag football is very different. For one there is no tackling, well at least there isn’t supposed to be. Blocking is more of just getting in front of the person. Once you get the ball it’s on you to make the other team miss.

For Leederman there was still a learning curve she needed to make. She had to keep telling herself that she was still new at the sport, and there were going to be mistakes. It was fixing those mistakes, and not letting things get into her head.

“The biggest adjustment I needed to make to be successful was to take one step at a time and remember that this is my first time playing this sport just like the others,” stated Leederman. “I also needed to adjust the mistakes I made and fix them and not get into my head.”

Whatever concerns Leederman may have had were squashed with the amazing season she just had. She earned D2 South first tram honors as a running back, going for an impressive 1,187 yards and 15 touchdowns.

But, that was just the beginning, Leederman was also a force on the defensive side of the ball. She had 97 tackles, six sacks, and 15 tackles for a loss. All while just being a sophomore.

For Leederman, being able to take over a game is such a great feeling. Knowing that when she gets the ball she has a chance to take it to the house, or dominate on the defensive side of the ball, is something that a player, like Leederman, can’t put into words.

“Being able to take over a game is such a strong feeling, knowing what moves I can put on people or knowing their weaknesses to get into their heads to help us win the game,” stated Leederman. “Being able to step on the field with a strong mindset will get you into the feeling of knowing you will win if you just do the best you are able to do.”

The great thing about Leederman is she just moves on to the next play. If she breaks off a long run, her mindset is what is the defense showing me next. How can I get better each play?

It’s that type of mentality which separates her from just wanting to be good to becoming a great.

“What goes through my mind when having game of games is, what’s their next play what’s there next move, at what speed can I get by the defender or what move can I put in them. And once the game starts rolling it comes into my favor,” stated Leederman. “I let the mistakes go behind me and play the next step that comes my way. I re think about how good I did the play before and how to make it better and how to use my offense or defense to make plays.”

Her play, along with her teammates, brought Pioneer to the stadium. Being able to play at HighMark Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills, was a dream come true. What made it even more special was the fact some of the Bills were there to watch the game, and give out the Blue Patch.

Some would argue it’s just another football field, but playing on the same field as Josh Allen is just an experience Leederman wanted to take in.

“The experience of playing at the stadium was huge amazing feeling, having a feel to what it feels like when you get ti the bigger step of playoffs,” stated Leederman. “You have everyone watching you so you do your best.”

This isn’t the only sport Leederman plays at Pioneer, she is also part of the soccer team. Being a multi sport athlete She will admit that it’s hard at times, but it’s also rewarding. It’s all about balance, and keeping yourself healthy.

If there is one thing, however, it’s that Leederman loves to stay busy. So, being able to play more that one sport fits right into her being busy, but having fun as well.

“Being s multiple sport athlete is hard, but it comes with patience and consistency. Once I put my all in a sport it comes down to commitment. I love to be busy busy so being able to do multiple sports definitely helps me get out of any negative head space because it makes me feel at ease when I am playin the sports I love.,” stated Leederman. “don’t really have that much time to give myself in between sports. But the days I have off I definitely take the time to relax and enjoy the summer with my friends and family. We do a bunch of summer training and travel seasons to get ourselves back into shape and become stronger than our opponents when season starts.”

Leederman also loves being part of a family, and that’s what playing sports it. It’s being part of something bigger than yourself. It’a about being part of a family. Sports teams are family, they go through the good, and bad, with each other every season.

They all have the same goals, and that’s what makes it special.

“Being a part of a team is being like a family. Without each other we wouldn’t be able to get where we are. Without our QB, O-line, or corners we wouldn’t be able to start a play because we use everyone on the team to get where we need to be,” stated Leederman. “This football season has taught me so much, to listen to what coaches say because they will make you better, also listen to your teammates because they are they to help you when you are down or make a mistake. A team comes with effort, and consistency!”

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