By DAVID KRIER
Little Wauzeka went big time this week, with two girls from the high school being flown to Hollywood to be featured on the Queen Latifah Show. Junior Celina Giddings and Sophomore Megan Klema are first-time members of the Wauzeka-Steuben football team, a development that drew the attention of the show’s producers after a La Crosse television station aired the story a few weeks back and it made its way to the west coast.
“It’s pretty cool, but I’m nervous about the whole thing,” said Giddings, who took her first plane ride Sunday for filming at Sony Pictures in Culver City, California on Monday. “This is so different for a small school, it’s really big stuff.”
Before the season started, Wauzeka-Steuben had 18 boys out for football. However, due to injuries and eligibility issues only 12 were ready to play the first game and there was discussion of canceling the season.
During her interview for the show last Wednesday at the school, Klema shed some light on the situation at that time. “We had something like 20 cheerleaders and only 12 players so I jokingly said to the other cheerleaders that if some of us went out for football we could have a team,” she said. “I went to Coach AV (Roth) with the idea and he said, ‘That’s awesome.’ The next day we put on the pads.”
Along with Giddings and another boy, KC Cooley, the Hornets had enough bodies to field a team.
“After the girls first went out for the team it was obviously the talk of the town,” said Principal Robert Sailer. “After watching the girls play the first game everyone saw the energy and enthusiasm the girls brought to the team, and after that it was business as usual.”
Well, not exactly. Several parents were concerned about the girls getting injured.
“Other parents asked my mom, ‘Aren’t you afraid of her getting hurt?’ But both my parents were very supportive,” said Klema. “My mom was all for it; she was proud.
“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘I can’t believe you went out for football.’ It’s a big thing for a little town like this.”
Klema plays running back and linebacker. The smaller Giddings splits her time between cornerback and wide receiver.
“I came out to help the team,” said Giddings.
“At first guys didn’t want to hit us, hitting a girl, stuff like that,” said Klema, “but after the first hit it was all adrenaline. It was awesome, but I don’t think I could have done it without Celina also on the team.”
The girls flew out on Sunday and were to return on Tuesday. The show was scheduled to air today (Thursday) at 1 p.m. Local stations carrying the Queen Latifah Show include NBC 15 out of Madison and FOX 25/48 out of La Crosse.
“Overall, the students, staff and community are happy to receive the attention,” said Sailer. “Good news is also positive in today’s world.”