Michelle Poffel said she talked about it with her mother.
If Mullen was going co-ed by adding girls to the all-boys school, she would be a Mustang when it occurred.
Already enrolled at Machebeuf in downtown Denver late in her eighth-grade class at All Souls Catholic School, Poffel, whose older brother, Matthew, was a Mustangs sophomore, didn’t want to get her hopes up and be overly disappointed if it didn’t happen.
However, it arrived at her Englewood home. The letter. Acceptance to Mullen. For real.
Poffel also earned the distinction of being the first female to enroll as a Mustang.
“It was exciting,” she said while visiting the Mullen campus recently. “My brother was here and playing football. I wanted to stay in Catholic education and I don’t remember a lot about (that day) … I was told I was the first one and they made a pretty big deal about it when we first started it.”
In August 1989, there was give and take, good and bad in being first.
“There were not very many of us girls here and we were kind of accepting of our fate, I guess, not to say it that way,” Poffel said.
There were the looks. Stares. Whispering. Even Poffel’s friends questioned why she would want to attend a school that finally was admitting girls.
Poffel had just turned 14 years old and said she “was nervous as hell, excited, but scared, freaked out.”
“We kind of paved the way,” she said. “We had to do what we had to do, make do every year and it kind of got upgraded, and we got more and more women registered as we went through ... that first year we tried to stay pretty tight. After that, it was like any other high school.”
And Poffel admitted she loved it.
“There’s pride to it, you feel it going through all four years,” she said, “… where we were and where we ended, how impressive and how fast it evolved.”
Poffel enjoyed being on the first volleyball team (initially, the program was junior varsity), although she had to wait until her junior year for track and field.
“And we were the first class (1993) to go through all four years,” she said.
Plus, the education Poffel said she received was tops. She started off at what was then Mesa State and later finished at Metro State. And she was prepared in earning two degrees.
“It helped immensely to go from private education to public,” she said. “You can see how much more you learned. We had honors and AP (advanced-placement) courses. But it was not an option to go into college credits.”
Twenty-seven years after graduation, Poffel remains a self-described lab rat. She’s a supervisor of a blood bank. Another brother, Mark, graduated from Mullen as did a sister, Amanda, in 2003 and Poffel pointed out “that when she went here there were more women than men.”
And her daughter, Micalea Jones, graduated as a Mustang in 2015.
“I wanted to keep the tradition,” Poffel said.
Ultimately, even knowing what she knows now, when asked if she could go back to 1989 again Poffel didn’t blink.
“Absolutely,” she said. “I would do it again.”