ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - A football game tied and in overtime, Freedom High School was fighting for their first win last Friday night and looking for a star performance to get it, so who would step up: the kicker who’s unlike anyone else on the field.
Kaitlyn Reynolds lined it up and kicked that game winner as the crowd erupted.
"Oh my gosh, my heart was racing going up to the ball, my legs were shaking and everything,” said Kaitlyn. "I was like 'whoa, people are cheering, we won!'
Her coach Robert “Coach Mo” Mahoney would post to his Twitter “My kicker kicks like a girl, and I can’t be more proud of it.”
That’s right, Kaitlyn is the lone woman on the Patriots squad, and one of the few in high school football.
"I'm a girl, so everyone expects me to not be able to do it, then I do it, and they're like, 'whoa! She can do it!'" she said practicing for Freedom’s homecoming game this weekend.
Reynolds said she’s always been a football fan since living in Alabama at a young age. However, opportunities for girls to get into the game are few most places you go. However, the Freedom senior got the ultimate opportunity last spring.
"Zero kickers, we aint got nobody,” said Coach Mo recalling the team’s sudden lack of kickers at the end of the last season.
Mahoney and his staff tried recruiting from the boys’ soccer team but found no one interested in the job.
"Nobody was interested, nobody wanted to help out,” the head coach said, “so I was walking by a girls’ soccer practice -- talked to the head coach and said 'you got anyone that can just nail it,' and said, 'yeah, I got this girl Kaitlyn."
Reynolds said she’d played soccer for several years, but was eager to give it a shot when approached by the football coach.
After trying a few punts and kicking a few field goals, Reynolds said the coach quickly offered her a spot on the team. Mahoney said Kaitlyn’s kicks were incredibly accurate and easily went the distance.
"Literally there's nothing that foot can't do,” said Coach Mo. “She's just a special talent when it comes to the touch of the ball."
The Patriots team also welcomed their new kicker, though they’d hear doubts about having a female on the team from some others.
That game winning kick silenced many of those voices though, as Kaitlyn said she’s now getting recognized and praised for her skills in her school and throughout the community.
"Someone told me yesterday that their daughter watched my video like 4 times already,” she said, “so it meant a lot, it's a good feeling."
"Everybody's welcome at our table, and that means everybody: male, female, black, white, anything,” said Coach Mo.
Kaitlyn said her next goal, besides helping her team get more wins, is to increase her field goal distance and keep pushing further on the field. She’s also hoping to catch the eye of college scouts before her senior year is up.