Dejah Rondeau’s trip to Patriot Place took an even more exciting turn when her favorite player, wide receiver Julian Edelman, came to play catch with her and gave her the ultimate gift every football fan desires: tickets to the Super Bowl.
EXETER, N.H. — With the big game just days away, the New England Patriots couldn’t help but reach for a little Exeter football charm for an extra lift on Super Bowl Sunday.
After learning of bullying that Exeter Seahawks’ seventh-grade quarterback Dejah Rondeau faced in school for being a girl playing football, the Patriots decided to invite Rondeau for a one-of-a-kind championship experience with team owner Robert Kraft. Rondeau was invited to Patriot Place, the home of the Pats, in the days following the team’s 37-31 overtime win in the AFC championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs Jan. 19.
Rondeau’s trip to Patriot Place took an even more exciting turn when her favorite player, wide receiver Julian Edelman, came to play catch with her and gave her the ultimate gift every football fan desires: tickets to the Super Bowl.
“I feel super happy, I feel like I’m known and people [now] know what some people go through to get to where they want to go,” Rondeau said Thursday. “When Julian pulled out the tickets, I didn’t know what to say. I never in a million years thought I would go to a Super Bowl.”
Rondeau previously said her interest in playing quarterback began when she would play catch with one of her best friends. Rondeau said she doesn’t see the game in terms of gender — she just wants to be the best football player and teammate possible. Now the waves she made on the field rippled far enough for the Patriots to take notice and invite her to the biggest game of all.
Rondeau was featured in a Patriots-produced video leading up to the meeting with Kraft, who led her on a personal tour of the Patriots’ trophy room. The two posed for a photo alongside the team’s five Super Bowl trophies.
After she met Kraft, Edelman was brought in to meet Rondeau quarterback. Rondeau wears the number 11 in honor of Edelman, who played quarterback in high school and in college at Kent State University. She has attended his pro-passing camp for youth football players, she said. Edelman showed her how Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady holds the laces on the football when he throws.
“I heard we got a quarterback here to take [Tom] Brady’s spot,” Edelman said to her in the video. “We’re going to bring you to the Super Bowl, too, if that’s cool? My respect level for you is just through the roof because you ignored all the noise and you played the game we all love, and that’s football.”
Rondeau admitted she was a little starstruck when she met Edelman and Kraft.
“When Edelman walked in, it was insane, I was in shock and I didn’t know what to say at all but just to smile,” Rondeau said Thursday. “When Kraft walked in behind me to show me the trophies, I was speechless; they were all so shiny.”
Before Rondeau ever started playing three years ago in the local youth football league, she had to convince her biggest skeptic who was soon to be her biggest fan: her mother, Nichole Brock.
“I made her write me a letter explaining why she wanted to play,” Brock told the Exeter News-Letter in November. “She said it would make her the happiest girl in the world, and she really believes she’ll be the first female quarterback to get a scholarship and play in the NFL.”
Though Rondeau said she was too excited to make a final score prediction for Sunday’s game, she was confident the Patriots will be hoisting their sixth Super Bowl trophy Sunday night.
“I don’t know; I just know we’re going to win,” she said.
Alex LaCasse is a reporter for the Exeter (N.H.) News-Letter.