Previously published in the 2017 Ouachitonian yearbook.
You kick like a girl: For many women this statement is considered demeaning. However, for freshman Erin Webster, a mathematics major from Alvin, Texas, these words took on a whole new meaning when she decided to join her high school football team her senior year.
Webster, a soccer player from the time she was old enough to run, committed a majority of her life to mastering the sport of soccer and really enjoyed it. However, when her soccer coach joked with her about her skill and strength for kicking, she began to think about what else there was for her.
“He said ‘Your punts are so good you should try out for the football team,’” said Webster.
And that’s exactly what she did. Webster was nervous at first about what people would think about her being a girl in a sea of big, padded boys. However, those nerves quickly went away as she began practicing with the team.
“At first, the guys on the team were weirded out that I was at practices, and some even felt self-conscious because a girl was watching,” said Webster. “But after the first game, all the guys knew I was here to play just like them.”
Webster’s practice schedule was a little different than the boys on the team. She had kicking practice twice a week and on the other days was still expected to go to practice and watch film with the team. Even though Webster had experience kicking with soccer, the football players on the team helped teach her just how to succeed.
“All the other kickers on the team helped me a lot with my technique and my confidence, and the boys were super encouraging when I got out to kick,” said Webster.
Even though Webster was a girl, she still got the chance to know exactly what it was like to put on that uniform for every game.
“I did wear full pads and a male jersey,” said Webster. “I was given a smaller set of pads so that it wouldn’t crush my chest, but I liked the uniform overall. I didn’t want any special treatment because I was a girl. I just wanted to get out there and help the team score points.”
Although Webster used her experience from soccer to help push her to be a better kicker for the football team, she said that the two sports were on totally different spectrums.
“Obviously, I fit in a little more with soccer because we were an all-girls team, but since I was part of both teams, I got equal support from both programs, which was amazing,” said Webster.
Webster received a few different opportunities to kick in football games throughout the season. Her first field goal was an experience that she never forgot.
“After I had made my first field goal in a game, all the guys on the sideline hit my helmet and yelled for me, and I knew I had made a difference for my team,” said Webster. “We won that game by a lot, but that didn’t mean my kick was insignificant. The guys respected me more afterward, too, like they finally believed I was good at kicking.”
Although Webster eventually left her glory days with the football team behind to focus on bettering herself in her soccer career, the unique experience of getting to be a part of such a tightly bonded group of guys was something she would never take back. She made a great group of male friends who will always have her back and would cherish the memories of standing on the field, scoring for her team and kicking like a girl forever.
By Taryn Bailey
Photo by Andy Henderson
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