Titans make history with first girl on football team

Julie Garcia By Julie Garcia

Oct. 10, 2013 at 5:10 a.m.
Updated Oct. 11, 2013 at 5:11 a.m.

Sitting still isn't one of Kelsey Ferry's strong suits.

When the Victoria East kicker isn't at football practice, she's probably running cross-country or practicing her combination soccer/football kick.

Ferry gave dance a try as a kid, but her mother said ballet didn't move fast enough.

"She was so spastic," Tracey Davis said, laughing at their home. "She was better at sports because it was constantly go-go-go and that's what she needed."

That go-go-go attitude is exactly what drove Ferry to try out for the Titan football team, the first girl to make varsity in Victoria ISD's history.

Persistence pays off

According to Ferry, it took some convincing for the coaches to take her seriously.

As soccer season was in full-swing last spring, Ferry (who plays goalie) informed football coach Kristopher Cavazos that she could kick.

"I asked her if she ever tried kicking a football, and she said not really," Cavazos said. "We came out here and she kicked a few and she as pretty good at it."

What followed this impromptu tryout were months of kicking.

Ferry said she would leave soccer practice early, go kick for the football coaches, then return to finish soccer.

The coaches were concerned about the logistics of having a girl on the team.

"One of the conflicts was, what was he going to do with me," Ferry recalled about Cavazos' initial concern. "Where am I going to go during changing, what am I going to do on the bus? What am I going to do during practice? Where am I going to sit during team talks?"

The questions didn't deter her from coming back over and over again to kick.

"I wasn't going to stop until he gave me one scrimmage, and that's when he said, come to two-a-days and we'll see how it goes," she said.

It wasn't until team picture day in early August that Ferry knew that she made the roster.

"They told me to suit up for the team picture, and I was like 'Yay,'" Ferry said, smiling.

Then the real work began.

Future (field) goals

After the Titans finish warming up at daily practice, Ferry retrieves the kicking bag and practices her kicks.

She receives drill instruction from Cavazos and coach Tyler Eblen, and then trots to an adjoining field to work them herself.

"She's the type of girl I can tell her to go to the side and work on this and she'll go work on it and give me 100 percent," Cavazos said. "I don't have to worry about her messing around - she gets it done."

It wasn't until late September that Ferry thought about playing college football.

"I went to a college game for my birthday; as I was watching I texted my coach and told him I wanted to do that - I want to kick in college," she said.

Women playing in men-dominated sports, whether collegiate or professional, is still considered taboo. That's what draws the 18-year-old to it.

"I want to be one of those few that can say they did it," she said.

The week after that game, Cavazos set her up with the same routine as the Katie Hnida, placekicker for the University of Colorado in the early 2000s.

"It's mainly legs; I have one day of arms," Ferry said. "On my arm day, I come out here and do hurdles and I stretch my legs because I'm normally sore that day; Every Thursday, I do a 30-minute stretching video of P90X and an ice bath; Friday is nothing."

Team chemistry

Ferry's addition to the team has been a good one, said East head coach Roland Gonzalez.

"She brings a lot of chemistry to the team; she just fits in really well," he said. "She has a lot of friends on the football team and they kind of look out for her and treat her as a regular ol' teammate."

One of her best friends on the team has been linebacker T.J. Cleveland.

"He's one of the players that really supports me every day," Ferry said.

On her 18th birthday, the team played Corpus Christi King at Memorial Stadium. Rain and lightning caused the game to be canceled, which was disappointing for all the players.

Rain didn't damper her birthday spirits, though. She pre-ordered a cookie cake to share with the team after the game.

"I told them no matter what happens, y'all will be in a good mood because it's my birthday," she said.

When the team went back to East, Ferry was subject to a "slap-cam."

"It's when someone records you getting slapped in the face with something," she said, laughing. "T.J. slapped me in the face with my cookie cake - twice."

Cavazos said that everything the team does, Ferry is included.

"All the communication is good when we're outside, the guys have no problems with it - chemistry is great with her," Cavazos said.

Missing kicks

In East's first three non-district games, Ferry was 10-10 in extra point kicks.

It wasn't until the team took on Tuloso-Midway earlier this month that she faltered during a PAT. East ended up losing 29-28.

Since the team lost by one point, Ferry initially shouldered the responsibility.

"Honestly, after I missed it, I was really upset," she said. "It's the only thing I do, so I feel like I need to be perfect every time."

During halftime, two teammates reassured her that it's not about one player's performance.

"They told me that no matter what, we're in this together - it's a team effort," she said. "They said, 'We have your back no matter what happens;' It really made me feel good."

In hindsight, Ferry realized it was "just an off game."

Gonzalez said that Ferry took the failed kick in stride.

"It happens; she handled it really well," Gonzalez said. "The team was able to overcome the missed extra point with a two-point conversion, so that really had no bearing on the outcome of the game."

Tackling issues

During games, Ferry said that she usually tucks her ponytail into her helmet.

Not ashamed to be the only girl on the field, she still isn't one to shout it out loud for the players trying to crush through the offensive line.

"It's always different in the game, you never know what to expect," she said. "Last game we played, I had some guy dive at my feet trying to catch the ball - that's never happened before, and I was like 'Oh my gosh!'"

Years of getting slammed in soccer games has made Ferry less scared of the aspect of being hit.

But she's happy to have a strong offensive line.

"It's something that's nerve-wracking, the thought of getting tackled mid-kick freaks you out," she said. "But it's OK, it's the adrenaline rush."



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