BUTLER COUNTY, Pa. — North Catholic’s Rylee Kumer has had her sights set on the gridiron for a long while.
“I always wanted to be a kicker,” said Kumer. “But because I’m a girl, it’s a little bit of a different situation.”
Back in March 2022, Kumer approached Trojan’s head coach Patrick O’Shea outside the weight room with a simple proposition.
“I said, I want to be your kicker,” said Kumer.
“It started from a joke in English class,” smiled teammate Oliver Gibson. “Like hey, Rylee should come kick for us.”
“They thought I was joking, actually, at first because they’re like, ‘you can’t do that,’” said Kumer. “Like, I’ve never heard of that before.”
It took just a couple of reps on a muddy field for coach O’Shea, and his team, to see what they had in their new kicker.
“Everybody knew right away that, okay, this girl isn’t just talk,” said O’Shea. “She is very, very good. And so we were real excited from day one once we saw the, you know, the power of her leg.”
Yes, Kumer is one girl on a roster of 50 boys playing against roster that look like the rest of her team. But that doesn’t affect her one bit when she steps onto the field. Her mindset?
“Girls can do anything guys can do,” said Kumer.
Her mindset is one she carries with her, when she opened up the season against Serra Catholic, going a perfect 5-for-5 on extra points.
“One of my most memorable [moments] after 30 some years of coaching was the team’s reaction after she kicked that first extra point,” said O’Shea. “It was just something I’ll never forget.”
“I was jumping up and down dancing,” said Kumer. “You could tell I was a girl there.”
Of course, being a female in a male-dominated sport has its ugly moments.
“You know, on social media, people can be mean,” said Kumer. “I’ve always stayed out of it. And people have made comments, but I just let it roll off my back because it doesn’t bother me.”
The junior’s talent, work ethic and bet-on-herself attitude is setting the bar for the next generation of female kickers she, and her team, hopes will follow.
“Rylee Cooper is going out there and making full goals, maybe I should give it a try,” said Gibson. “I sure hope they do.”
“I want every girl to know that there isn’t a set sport for males and females,” said Kumer. “I want to make sure that everybody knows you can do what you want to do if you put your mind to it.”
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