Rancho Eagles begin training with first female kicker
Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
Issue 35, Volume 18.
"I love this sport," said Emma Baker who was encouraged by her father in middle school to try out for the boyís football team.
Last year the boyís eighth grade football team at Rancho Christian needed a kicker and Emma, who played club soccer for eight years, wanted to try out.
"We were at the speed and agility training camp in the summer of 2013 when I mentioned to Emma in jest about playing football," said Jim Baker, Emmaís father.
It took Emma a couple of weeks to mull over the idea to kick football for a boyís team before telling her father she was game.
"At first I thought the idea was fun but weird playing on a boys team," Emma said.
The Bakers said the coaches and players were welcoming and supportive of Emma from the start. Despite her being a girl, the coaching staff says they have been impressed with her talent and sees her playing a vital role to the teamís success this season.
"She is incredibly talented and a high level athlete," said Jimmy Kemmis, assistant head coach for the Rancho Eagles.
Kemmis said the toughest part is over for the team, accepting they would have a female kicker and punter for the next four years.
In eighth grade Emma kicked 37-yards; this year she is already kicking over 40.
"When we get to the 25-yard line and itís fourth down, we are changing our teamís way of thinking and playing," said Kemmis. "We can use Emma to kick and score points. She could end up being the teamís high scorer of the year."
"This has turned out to be a good thing," said Emmaís mother Erin Baker, adding the experience of her daughter playing football has been wonderful. "It has worked on her self-confidence. I love how the coaches teach about life and being [an] outstanding citizen through the game."
Kemmis, who also taught Emma in the seventh grade, said he has seen Emmaís confidence level soar both on and off the field.
"I donít know how a girl wakes up one day and convinces herself she is going to play football with the guys, but it has to take confidence," said Kemmis.
Kicking is not a passing hobby for the five foot eleven inch powerhouse. Emma plans to take her football career as far as she can.
"I want to play football in college and if I can the NFL," she said.
The national record for a female high school player kicking a field goal during a game is 47 yards. Since Emma is already kicking over 40 yards, head football coach Jim Kunau said he plans on the Rancho Eagles setting records.
Emma said she has had some naysayers but overall the support from her teammates, the coaching staff and other girls in school has been positive.
"We are having so much with this. This is like a dream come true for me," said Jim, whose 11-year-old son Jack also plays football.
"I have my daughter on one end of the field practicing and my son on the other end. This is great," he said.
"Emma can be our schoolís highest scorer when she retires from high school," said Kemmis.
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