When the Columbus East girls soccer team has needed a throw-in the past four years, coach Ilya Schwartzman has known exactly where to turn for a chance at a goal.

Danielle Rodgers provides a unique throw-in from the sidelines. The senior takes a running approach, dives forward with her hands on the ball, then flips over it and with her momentum propelling her, launches a heave toward the penalty box.

Sometimes, the throw-in results in a goal. Although the Olympians haven’t connected for one off a Rodgers heave this season, they have the past couple of years.

“She does a fantastic job,” Schwartzman said. “It requires a lot of athleticism and coordination. Her throw-in is absolutely incredible and as good as a corner kick. It’s a great offensive weapon. We’ve been working very hard to figure out how to get on the other end of it.”

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A former gymnast, Rodgers learned the flip-throw from former Columbus North gymnast Tessa Lane and her sister, current University of North Carolina gymnast Morgan Lane.

“They actually told my mom about it, and they had us meet at the fields one day,” Rodgers said. “They said, ‘Take your front handspring that you do, and you flip over the ball and you throw it in.’ Over the years, it’s progressed with my strength and growing.”

“We don’t use it all the time,” Schwartzman said. “It depends on the situation and how she feels because it takes its toll on the body. Then there are certain fields that don’t have the right amount of room for her to be able to get the throw-in.”

Rodgers did gymnastics until seventh grade before deciding to focus on soccer.

“Gymnastics is very time consuming, and the competition is more of an individual sport based on what you do,” Rodgers said. “I really like the team aspect of (soccer), and I enjoy it a lot more than going to gymnastics practice. I always look forward to going to soccer practices.”

Since East’s top player, Elisa Watkins, was lost to a knee injury, Rodgers has moved from forward to fill Watkins’ spot in the center midfield. Rodgers plays right back for her FC Pride Midwest Regional League team.

“It’s a bit of a change,” Rodgers said.

“I did play (center midfield) my junior year, but adjusting back to it is a big difference. But I have a great person in the middle with me named Maggie (Lewis) who helps me out a lot, and we’ve been doing pretty well together.”

Rodgers isn’t planning to play soccer in college. She wants to study physical therapy and will likely attend University of Indianapolis, IUPUI or Indiana University.

But this week, the focus is on the North Sectional. Rodgers, who has scored one goal this season and is tied for second on the team with five assists, will help lead East (7-4-5) into Thursday’s semifinal matchup against the winner of tonight’s North-Scottsburg game.

“I would like to see our team progress on past sectional,” Rodgers said.

“It’s going to be a bit of a tough challenge, but I think we’ll overcome it. Especially being my senior season, I really wish to go far one more time.”

If you go

Columbus East boys soccer sectional

at Richard Wigh Soccer Complex


6 p.m.: Seymour vs. Scottsburg


6 p.m.: Columbus East vs. Columbus North

8 p.m.: Seymour-Scottsburg winner vs. Madison


2 p.m.: Championship


Columbus North girls soccer sectional

at Richard Wigh Soccer Complex


6 p.m.: Columbus North vs. Scottsburg


6 p.m.: Seymour vs. Madison

8 p.m.: Columbus East vs. Columbus North-Scottsburg winner


7 p.m.: Championship

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.