Editor's note: This story was written as a part of the Observer's Explorer Post program, which gives high school students the chance to learn about journalism.
The Friday night lights illuminated a fearless female this year on Sun Valley High School’s football team. Kiersten Peck, an 18 year old senior, took a leap of faith and became the first female kicker for her high school team.
“Since they didn’t have one and I knew I could do it, why not?” she said.
Facing the odds and also facing 11 burly opponents on the field, she finished the season with 38 points.
"Special teams can win and lose games," said Sun Valley head coach Paul Hall.
With such responsibility riding on Peck’s shoulders it took a lot of trust.
“It was hard for (the team) to trust a girl scoring a point for them but once they realized I could do it, it was a lot of fun,” she said. The only hassle that Peck received from becoming the only girl playing a predominantly male sport was petty jokes from her teammates.
“We all became really close as a team and having a girl kick for us wasn’t weird at all, she was like a sister to all of us,” said Terrence Blount.
Peck added, “Everybody was really encouraging.”
Overall she was given the same treatment as any other athlete on the team. Although one of the drawbacks of being a female was obvious.
“It was different, because I’m a girl so they all had to go in a separate room to change and be a little more modest with me,” Peck said.
When asked how she felt if she were to mess up, she replied saying, “When I did miss one I felt really bad, but everybody was really positive with it because it was really intimidating being out there.” Peck wasn’t scared to be on the field with 11 large football players trying to stop her. She didn’t worry about getting injured.
“Being a girl I was always afraid of being hit, but I was worried more about repetitively kicking and tearing a muscle,” she said, “I really trusted the guys in front of me a lot, because if they weren’t there I would’ve been on the ground.”
She always focused on getting the ball where she needed it to go and hoped for the best. Peck will start her freshman year this upcoming fall at Catawba College. She received a scholarship to play soccer there.
“I am so excited. I’m going to major in athletic training,” she said. “I already live in the athletic training room at my school, so I’m super excited.”