After an early August heat wave saw temperatures hit the triple-digits, a much-needed weekend rainstorm brought a change to the weather. When the East Scarlets gathered for their first practice on Monday evening, it was starting to feel like football season in the air.
The Scarlets were beginning a new season under a new head coach – Tyrone Tyler – as well as a new assistant who marks a milestone in DMPS football, Renate Rice, believed to be the school district’s first female football coach.
Rice is an Iowa native and a North High graduate who has been involved in sports since she was five years old, competing in basketball, softball, tennis, track, volleyball … and football. She is also a student of the game, currently enrolled in the Sports Management Program at Grandview University.
“I have always had a love for football and started playing at the age of 12 with the Little All American Football League here in Des Moines,” said Rice. “Unfortunately, my father would not allow me to play past that due to ‘being a girl’ which shifted my focus to other sports.”
A few years down the road, Rice was able to rekindle her passion for the game.
“At the ripe age of 30, my best friend happened to see sign-ups for a women’s tackle football team here in Des Moines, and signed me up,” noted Rice. “I played my first season in 2007 and have never looked back.”
Her resume as a player speaks for itself: she went on to win 3 All Star rings and a championship over the next 12 years of play.
While she may be a rookie football coach, it didn’t show as she was directing drills from atop the block sled. Perhaps that’s because coaching itself is not new from Rice. She’s coached everything from her daughter’s softball team to her women’s football team to being an assistant varsity basketball coach at DMPS.
“Coach Rice brings tons of experience to our team from her participation in women’s tackle football,” head coach Tyler pointed out. “She’s knowledgeable of the game and brings a different type of intensity to our staff. She’s a student of the game and is eager to work with our student-athletes.”
“I look to continue to developing within the East High program under the leadership of Coach Tyler,” added Rice. “He and the entire staff have welcomed me with open arms and have taken me under their wing, making sure I am comfortable and well versed in the program’s philosophy.”
Rice hopes to continue her career in sports by becoming an Athletic Director or General Manager upon completion of her degree.
During the year that marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, Rice is testimony that women’s participation and leadership at all level of athletics can continue to grow.
The high school football season kicks off on Friday, August 26. The East Scarlets host the Roosevelt Roughriders. Game time is 7:00 PM at Williams Stadium.