HENRICO, Va. (WRIC)–Making a high school sports team is a big deal. But at one Henrico school, a talented baseball player has managed to accomplish what fewer than one percent of athletes do.
The baseball program at Freeman High School is highly competitive. But this season, Coach Jay Barnes threw a curveball when he added Dakota Hansen – a girl – to the boys JV team.
“It’s a new flavor for this program,” explains Coach Barnes.
“They knew about me and knew I was had the ability to play baseball, and so when tryouts came I did well, and that’s how I made the team,” Dakota explained.
“I’m pretty fast and my arm is the major key and I have instincts, so yea infield is my big key,” Dakota says.
Dakota plays second base. While she’s not a starter on the team, the Freeman freshman can be credited with leveling the playing field in a sport dominated by boys.
And Coach Barnes can’t believe his female player hadn’t attracted more attention.
“I’ve been waiting for the flack, I really have, but it’s like she’s just one of the guys,” he adds. “You know, nobody said anything. We played games against other teams and nobody’s said anything. Nothing.”
And Dakota’s teammates say she’s earned a spot on the team.
“It was kind of weird at first, but after we got to know her, we were all cool with it,” explains player James Manning. “She’s definitely proved herself to be worthy to be on the team.”
“She’s definitely proved herself to be worthy to be on the team.”
And how does Dakota see it?
“They’re pretty nice,” she says of her teammates. “They’re cool about it. They treat me like one of the boys, so I mean that’s all I wanted to be treated as the same as them.”
While she’s happy to now to be playing with the boys, Dakota’s ultimate goal isn’t the big leagues.
“I want to play softball in college,” she said. “One of my favorite teams in college is Florida University and that’s one of my goals is to play softball if I can at a D1 school.”
Either way, at least for Dakota, diamonds really are a girl’s best friend.
“This was one of my biggest challenges throughout my lifetime and I accomplished what I needed to accomplish,” she said.