Valley girl makes high school football team
CAVE CREEK, Ariz. (KSAZ) - On a quiet afternoon in Cave Creek, a young high school freshman is putting in work on the football field by not only kicking field goals but kicking stereotypes right out the door.
"I've played soccer since I was 4, so it kind of just came second nature to me and that's why I can kick with more my right and my left foot," Karli Koskovich said.
Karli Koskovich may be the only girl among a team of freshmen boys at Cactus Shadows High School, but she's no stranger to football. Her uncle played for years and her dad is a coach at Paradise Valley, so when she decided to try out for the team to be their kicker, her family was all for it.
Convincing her teammates, though, was another challenge.
"Their jaws dropped, they're like, 'Karli, is that you?' and I'm like, 'Yeah, that's me,' and I'm like 'I'm going to be your kicker,' and they're like, 'OK, let me see what you can do,'" she said. "And then I made my first 30-yard field goal and they were like (shocked)."
That's the same look other students have when they see Karl walking around campus with a jersey on.
"She's like, 'Karli, who's jersey are you wearing?' and I'm like, 'I'm wearing my jersey,' and she's like, 'Are you sure?' and I'm like, 'Yep, number 11. That's me,'" she said.
Karli admits some people are skeptical about whether a girl should be playing a boy's sport, but she says it all comes down to guts.
"You just have to get over it and like, if you were a girl would you actually be out here doing this and a lot of people would say no and I have the guts to do this," she said.
On game night, Karli's job is about kicking field goals, extra points and kickoffs, but there was the rare occasion, during a recent game, when she took her first hit.
"And Bam! I was on the ground and I remembered his number, it was number 84 and I'll never forget that," she said.
It's that spirit and determination that is rubbing off on the rest of the team and the rest of the school.
"I took a little offense to it," said Adrian Drew, Karli's coach. "I'm not used to her getting hit, but she got up and she was ready to go."
"It's different at first, but she comes in, meets everyone and she's part of the team now," Jaxen Schneider said. "She's part of our family."
"All of our kids that go to our school that come to the game, they just get all real excited when she comes out," Adam Busbee said. "It's just a fun moment."
But will the fun keep her kicking footballs in the future?
"I really like it and the odds are high, so I think I will," she said.