Willis High School’s 2019 football season ended on the night of Nov. 8, but the Wildkats made some history prior to their final game against Tomball High.
Emilee Buhl is the first female player to secure a varsity roster spot at the north Montgomery County school. While it is no longer uncommon to see girls play high school football, it is rare to find one not listed as a kicker. The 5-foot-9-inch Buhl plays the quarterback position.
And it all started with a simple request to head coach Michael Wall almost a year ago.
“She actually came to us in January and said, ‘Coach, I want to play football,’” Wall told Texas Scorecard, adding that Buhl had starred in a girls powder puff game and realized that she loved playing the sport. “We got her in the athletic period and she worked out offseason.”
Buhl landed on the junior varsity squad. She did not start, but made the best of the action she saw on the field. Wall recalled a game in which the junior made a key special teams play by recovering an onside kick to seal a win over Magnolia West.
According to the coach, junior varsity players “who do everything right” can earn the opportunity to suit up on Friday nights. Buhl was the latest to earn the coveted honor.
“She’s someone who’s been doing everything right and never been a problem in any area whatsoever, so we honor her with that,” Wall said. “I wasn’t sure what her football future holds, but we want to honor her and give her a varsity opportunity.”
The two-sport athlete – Buhl is also a member of the wrestling team – warmed up on the sidelines prior to the Nov. 8 kickoff. She did not play a down in the Wildkats’ 31-17 loss to the visiting Cougars, but the moment made Wall proud of “her grit and determination.
“I’m just proud for her,” he said. “We love to reward hard work and she bought into it.”
Buhl’s teammates were amazed by her work ethic and did not hesitate to accept her into the fold.
“Hard work is a great equalizer amongst people,” Wall said. “I never heard one complaint about her. She never complained about anything. It has been the smoothest year having a female on the team from all facets. She showed up and did her job. That was pretty cool.”
Willis finished with a 3-7 overall record, including a 2-5 district mark.