Following a shortened and somewhat disappointing football season for most Southern Arizona high schools, coaches are anxious to get back under the Friday Night Lights. In the nearly two years since the last full season ended, there’s been a lot of changes in the kids who will be seeing the field. A number of players, especially seniors, are looking to have a stellar year and make an impact on their team; Such is the case for Cienega football senior kicker Brynnley Lourenco.
“I have 100% confidence in Brynnley as our kicker this year. She has put in tons of work this off-season and has done a great job of extending her range. We recently had our inter squad scrimmage and she was lights out with PATs and FGs. I’m very excited to see her production on the field this season,” Cienega Head Football Coach Justin Argraves said.
Lourenco made her debut in the game against Canyon del Oro, where she drilled all four of her field goals attempted. An avid soccer player, she’s a long-time member of the FC Tucson Soccer Club and was part of Cienega’s 2019-2020 varsity squad, where plays as a defender.
“Last year in the game, I only got the opportunity to do PATs, but this year off the field I’ve been able to hit it from 49 yards out, and my goal this season is to not miss anything inside of 45 yards,” Lourenco said.
Her journey from sporting high socks and shin pads to rocking pads and a helmet was an interesting one. Originally, Lourenco had no intentions of playing football. She never had even considered it, until she was approached one day by the coach.
“Last year they didn’t have a kicker and Coach Schween asked me if I wanted to kick field goals for the team and I told him yes,” Lourenco said.
Little did she know then, the pandemic would open up a new door for her in athletics. Lourenco previously played football in her youth, but stopped playing when it was transitioning to tackle. Returning to the game in high school would certainly bring its own set of challenges, but they were something she figured she would, at the very least, try.
“I came out the day before tryouts with my dad, and I had never kicked a football before, and ended up picking it up in about two hours. I came out that Monday and they offered me to kick for the team,” Lourenco said.
Lourenco’s younger brother also participated in football tryouts and made the roster for the freshman team. With her younger brother also involved in the program, the opportunity to lead by example means a lot to her.
“For me, I don’t take this responsibility lightly. I take it as a challenge to push myself to not only be an example for my siblings, but for everyone that goes here and all of the girls around,” Lourenco said.
Argraves says her passion and dedication towards being the best version of herself is apparent in her everyday actions. Over the summer, Lourenco was one of the few individuals who always made sure to take advantage of every opportunity to grow.
“Brynnley has a work ethic that is unmatched by many. She attended all our 6am lifting sessions this summer and has the utmost respect of her teammates. Even after our early morning lifts she would stay after with our kicking coach getting extra work in and then would return for afternoon practices,” Coach Argraves said.
But her motivation doesn’t stop when practice is over. Lourenco works hard in the classroom, too, and still makes sure to study and get her homework done after practice.
Argraves added, “This was on top of balancing her soccer schedule during the summer. On top of athletics, she carries a 4.5 GPA.”
As the only female on the squad, and one of the few female participants across the state, the transition into making football a more welcoming environment for everyone. Lourenco says the staff and team at Cienega has treated her well and she enjoys being part of the Bobcat Football Family.
“They treat me good. We all give it our all everyday, so I think as long as we’re working, then we get along pretty well. There are some days it’s a little more challenging, but we’re always there to pick each other up and push each other,” Lourenco said.
Argraves says the relationship is a two-way street. The contributions Lourenco makes both on and off the field also have a positive impact on her teammates.
“She absolutely pushes her teammates to be better every single day. From first period weights, where she has been assigned as a group leader by our strength coach, to team meetings every day, to on field practices; Her leadership skills are clearly evident in everything she does, and she has gained full respect from everyone in our entire program,” Argraves said.
With female participation numbers slowly climbing, Argraves hopes that Lourenco will help inspire other young women who may be interested in football to chase their dreams. The father of a little girl himself, Argraves hopes Lourenco will also have an impact on some of the younger girls not yet in high school to have an interest and more of an involvement in the sport.
“I can 100% see Brynnley’s participation in football being used as a motivator for other girls to come out for football. Having a 4 year old daughter myself, Brynnley is somebody I would want my daughter looking up to based on her leadership, work ethic, dedication to the classroom, and dedication to her teammates,” Argraves said.
While this season will have a unique significance and meaning for each individual player, Lourenco may be one of the few who were able to find a bright spot to capitalize on during last year’s turbulent ride.
“The pandemic is the whole reason I got this opportunity. It’s pushed me to be a better person and I have someone that I know is behind me to push me and when I don’t have that motivation, I remember they’re the reason why I do it,” Lourenco.
Lourenco will have the opportunity to show off her leg and help Cienega’s Special Teams unit when the season kicks off Fri., Sept. 3. The Bobcats will travel up to the Valley where they will take on the 2020 5A State Champions at Sunrise Mountain.
Brittany Bowyer is a freelance journalist who started her career as an intern for a small sports website back in 2015. Since then, she’s obtained her master’s degree in Sports Journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU and is in her fourth year of covering various levels of sports across a broad range of platforms in Arizona. You can follow her on twitter @bbowyer07