COUNCIL BLUFFS — Angie Lantz chose football over volleyball.
The decision was easy for the then-high school freshman born and raised in Schleswig, Iowa. It was the sport she enjoyed growing up. It’s what she did at recess and in middle school.
Schleswig football was serious business. The team lost in overtime in the state championship game the year before in 1987.
Lantz didn’t get any special treatment. She still made the team as a defensive end and tight end, seeing most of her playing time in junior varsity while also making varsity appearances late in Schleswig’s many lopsided wins.
“I went through the same things the boys went through,” Lantz said. “The only thing different was I got a different locker room. Or some away games I dressed in a bathroom.”
The blonde-haired girl in the No. 42 jersey suited up all the way to the Class A title game. In full pads, she was part of a delirious sideline that cheered Schleswig to a 10-7 overtime win against Preston at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. She was the first Iowa girl to dress for a championship football team.
A lot has changed since then for Lantz, a 1992 Schleswig graduate now in her ninth year coaching volleyball at Council Bluffs St. Albert. While the football playoffs continue at the UNI-Dome, she will be in Cedar Rapids as a state tournament participant for the second straight year.
Sometimes in a big match, Lantz still finds herself drawing on her gridiron experience.
“I kind of, I guess, go back to the football days and how our coaches made us believe in ourselves that we can do whatever we put our minds to,” Lantz said. “When I need to, I feel like I try to do that for our kids in the same way. If that means I have raise my voice and get you guys fired up a little bit, then I’m going to do that.”
Though she intended to stick with football, 1988 was her only high school season. In summer camp, she saw the boys around getting bigger and faster, and decided to try something else her sophomore year.
Her twin sister, Andrea, had always played. But Lantz never picked up a ball until that fall, when she made varsity as a middle. By the end of her senior year, she had helped Schleswig to a pair of Boyer Valley Conference titles.
Lantz spent two more years playing at Southwestern Community College in Creston and a third at Southern Arkansas. She came to St. Albert in the early 2000s armed with a volleyball coaching résumé highlighted by some AAU work.
A win Thursday would be the Saintes’ first at the state volleyball tournament.
“I think (football) has kind of helped mold me into the coach that I am today because of having gone through that and knowing that side of the coin,” said Lantz. “If I had to do it over, I’d still do the same thing. That’s me; that’s who I am.”
The oldest of four girls, Lantz never caught a varsity pass, though she scored numerous times in middle school and on JV. In one blowout against Coon Rapids-Bayard, she rotated from defensive end to linebacker and busted through the line for a sack.
Senior Nevada Meis said Lantz has mentioned her football days a few times. Don’t get Lantz started on girls playing football who are only kickers.
“If football is brought up, she brings up a story and we all get a good chuckle out of it,” Meis said. “None of us have experienced that, so it’s kind of cool to hear it.”
Lantz doesn’t have to choose between football and volleyball anymore. In many ways, she’s enjoying the best of both worlds.
“Sometimes because I played football, people have a perception of me of being a very tough individual,” Lantz said. “I always tell everybody I’m probably the biggest marshmallow you’re going to meet. I’ll wear my heart on my sleeve and do anything for any of my kids at any time.”