TRENTON – Saturday inside the Sun Bank Center, the Trenton Freedom held an open tryout and the early group consisted of prospective kickers. Amongst the various legs on the field, one could not help notice Barri Deptula and Carl Romero.
Deptula kicked three years at Steinert High School and earned a spot on the Times’ All-Area football team. Today she served as a coach to Romero, her kicking coach for three years in high school. The 46-year-old teacher decided to see if he still had it in his leg to compete.
The duo met three years ago as Romero attended games as a band parent and noticed Deptula kicking as a sophomore.
“He saw a couple of things I was doing wrong and he started helping me.” Deptula said.
Romero kicked at Hunterdon Central High School, before kicking for three years at Dartmouth College is not chasing a dream. He sees it as something to do.
“Eleven months ago I had a stroke. It wasn’t completely debilitating, I lost vision in the upper right quarter which has regenerated. I decided this was a nice goal to have, it is more about living for me,” Romero said after the tryout. “I would have regretted not taking this opportunity.”
After connecting on his first four attempts, Romero missed his next kick but adjusted after consulting with Deptula and nailed his next two attempts.
“I knew I would be accurate, I think I missed four or five kicks but they weren’t off by much,” Romero said analyzing his performance. “I felt if I could be accurate inside of 40 yards but it was a more of a case of my distance being off.”
Maybe it was the distance as younger legs prevailed when it came to the kickoffs and the longer field goal attempts, and Romero fell out of contention, the lifelong kicker was not fazed.
“She’s mad at me,” Romero laughed and said motioning toward Deptula. “She wanted to be a pro’s coach.”
With an acceptance letter to the College of New Jersey Deptula has not decided about kicking at the next level.
Trenton Freedom fun fact: All footballs that enter the stands are souvenirs for the fans and there is only netting behind the goal posts. The Freedom prepared for this by ordering 500 game balls for their six home games.