Cleat Geeks

Women of Sports: Kylee Harrell

One day after summer volleyball workouts, the head football coach of St. Clair County High School, Alan Lee sought out freshman Kylee Harrell. He was in desperate need of a field goal kicker and had heard that she played competitive soccer. Hoping to solve his team’s kicking woes, Coach Lee asked Kylee if she knew how to kick a football.

“No,” she replied. “But, I’m willing to give it a shot!”

That week, Kylee’s dad bought a football and they went out to the field to give it a shot, or should I say, kick. Kylee’s mom recorded her kicks; afterwards they showed Coach Lee. He liked what he saw from the recording and invited Kylee to summer training.

Kylee has been the varsity kicker since and is now in her junior year. I sat down with Kylee Tuesday night and asked her some questions about football, school, and future plans.

Q: What was your first day of summer football training like?
A: They brought me out the first day of summer training or two-a-days. I went out there and kicked everything from PATs, field goals, and kickoffs. They put me on first team for everything. The first day I was really nervous. Once all of the guys saw me kick, they all thought it was the coolest thing. They were all jumping around and going crazy – it was fun! When I got to the first day of freshman year, that’s when the whole brotherly love really kicked in. [Laughs] They were protective over everything. I usually had a guy with me after every class change, just for that fact.

Q: I saw that you were on homecoming court sophomore and junior year. How does that work with football?
A: I would wear a dress to the parade. After the parade at the game I would just walk out in my uniform. Then after that, I would run to the locker room and put my shoulder pads on and my hair up and then go out onto the field. [Laughs] It’s been fun. I love it!

Q: Did you ever get nervous or rattled when hustling from homecoming court to kickoff?
A: I don’t think we ever had kickoff first. But if we did, Lackey always holds my tee and my footballs for me, so he always had everything ready, he helped a lot. All I ever really had to do was just put my shoulder pads on. My teammates and coaches were usually still talking in the locker room too, so I had plenty of time to put on all of my stuff.

Q: Do you play any other sports?
A: Soccer and basketball

Q: Was it a tough adjustment going from kicking a soccer ball to kicking a football?
A: Freshman year, it was hard to adjust going from football practice to soccer practice. But now it’s not. I was always fine kicking. Sometimes my kicks will go sideways in soccer, just from the way I hit a football with my foot, so my soccer balls will always curve. It took me a little time to adjust. Schedule-wise, I love it! I have to have a schedule.

Q: I saw that you were invited to Team Jackson Kicking 2014 Southern Invitational with Coach Brian Jackson. How was that?
A: It was fun! I was sore the next day, but we all were. It was a competitive experience.

Q: Have you ever had to deal with anything a male football player has never had to deal with?
A: I’m treated equally other than when they warm up – I just stretch. They don’t usually stretch what I need to. I only stay 30-45 minutes because I have to go from football to soccer practice.

Q: Describe a typical practice?
A: I sit in the training room with the guys while they get taped and we’d always laugh and cut up and stuff. Once they are done, the football guys and the trainer leaves, we lock the doors, and then I change. By the time I get out there, they are in pre-practice and they are all stretching. I come out and stretch and do my thing. We do special teams first so I can leave and go to soccer practice.

Q: How do you train in the off-season?
A: I have soccer year-round, but for football, I’ll go out on our field and just kick by myself or with my dad in the summer.

Q: What is your favorite football moment so far?
A: One practice, the guys were kind of down. It was the day before a game. It wasn’t a very exciting practice. My coach told me while we were doing PATs that he was going to run a “special route” with me and my holder, Juan. My coach told us to act like I had the wrong tee and when the center said “Down,” I would say, “Wait, I’ve got the wrong one!” Then I ran to the sideline to get the right tee and I’d run into the end zone and my holder would walk up to the center, get the ball, and chuck it to me. When this happened, I caught it! The quarterback, Matt, went crazy and hugged and picked me up. Everyone started jumping around me.

Q: I read in an article that said you were 100% accurate in 2014 on field goal attempts.
A: I was! I don’t think I’ve missed a field goal.

Q: Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
A: I can’t wear anything other than ankle socks.

Q: Do you have a game day playlist?
A: Depends on the day. The playlist changes all the time.

Q: What are you future plans academically and athletically?
A: I committed back in the beginning of December to Birmingham Southern College for Soccer. They are a D3 school.

Q: Do you have any plans to keep kicking? College? After college?
A: I do not plan on kicking after high school. If the opportunity ever arose during college I would not pass it up, but my plans are to play soccer in college.

Q: I saw some photos of you on Instagram captioned Street Reach. What is Street Reach?
A: My church is called The Gathering Place Youth. Last summer we all went to Memphis, Tennessee and spent a week down there on a mission trip. We basically share the love of Jesus to kids that live in terrible conditions. We let them know that Jesus loves them. The kids have Bible club in the morning, then eat lunch and then do a service project. Our youth was split up in groups for each bible club site. I was on Whittier. That trip definitely changed my life for the better. The name of the mission trip is Street Reach.

Q: Do you have a favorite quote?
A: “The Lord is my strength and my shield. In Him my heart trusts.” – Psalm 28:7

Q: Outside of sports, do you have other hobbies or interests?
A: It usually is just sports. I usually am just playing sports. [Laughs]

Q: What is your outlook for your senior football season?
A: I hope to be more consistent. I want to make 100% of my PATs. It hasn’t happened yet. I also hope our team does better. Leadership wise we always have those stubborn kids that think they don’t have to listen to anybody. Last year a lot of our team was injured. So I hope we stay healthy.

Q: What do you tell girls who ask you for advice when it comes to playing football or sports in general?
A: I tell them not to be nervous. What really almost stopped me was being nervous about what other people were going to think and how the guys were going to react. I knew I could do it, it was just other people’s opinions. Don’t let that phase you. When I went out and did it, the guys are what made it so much fun. The way they reacted, they made it special to me because they made it a bigger deal. I’ve always been kind of like “Yeah, I can do it, no big deal,” but they just made it enjoyable.

Q: Who is your role model?
A: Definitely my mom.

Along with football, Kylee also plays volleyball, basketball, and club soccer. She takes all AP classes and is the Junior Class Vice President. Follow Kylee on Instagram and Twitter.

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