Cleat Geeks

Game 6 | More Cowbell

Two weekends ago, the Chicago Eagles beat the Salina Liberty in a super close game 51-50. Kicker David Tomis played an almost perfect game going 6/6 on pats and 1/2 on field goals. One of those field goals was a 49-yarder! Unfortunately, Tomis was also injured in this game. However, this gave me a chance to step up and play this past weekend against the Omaha Beef. During Wednesday’s practice, I found out I was dressing for the game! I was excited for the opportunity to play.

Trying on the gear with my roomie!

An Unexpected Announcement
Thursday at noon, our team met at the team hotel to load up the bus and leave for Omaha, Nebraska. Upon arriving, we were notified that our head coach Tim Arvanitis was let go that morning at 9am. Nobody saw this coming. Defensive coordinator Mel Hay stepped up to the challenge of being our new head coach. The coaching staff along with Julie Camp, director of group sales, did their best to keep everyone calm and focused on the game.

Thursday Night
Usually when teams travel, an easy option is always Golden Corral. This time we got to go to the Olive Garden, and it was awesome. The staff went out of their way to make sure my teammates and coaches were happy and full with unlimited breadsticks and salad. Dinner was delicious and we got to hang out as a team outside of the field and travel bus. We stayed at The New Victorian Inn & Suites Thursday night. I got to catch up on some much needed sleep. Friday we met in the lobby at 2pm to take the bus two miles to Ralston Arena.

Friday the 13th – Game Day
I don’t like to warm-up too early before games, but we got the whole field at 3pm so I started working on kickoffs. Only 4 hours til kickoff . . . Ralston Arena is a beautiful facility and an indoor kickers dream with high ceilings and nice turf. I was so nervous for my first kick. QB Anthony Iannotti threw to Chris Perry who ran the ball in for an Eagle touchdown! Time to kick! It’s good! My nerves were finally calm.

I missed my first field goal attempt pushing it wide left. Seconds before halftime, I got another chance to try for one. As I ran out on to the field to kick, my chinstrap got flipped around and I couldn’t buckle it. My holder, Stacey Howard, tried to fix it. As I took my steps the refs blew the whistle. Delay of game penalty on me. First time I’ve ever had a penalty called on me. With my chinstrap still messed up and my nerves rattling again, I took my steps. Alex Gonzalez’s flawless snap went straight back to Stacey Howard for a beautiful hold. The line held their blocks and my kick was good! I was so pumped! This 32-yard field goal was huge! It put us up by 3 points going into halftime 23-20.

Pre-game w/ Julie Camp, Danielle Bielawski, and trainer Bill

I had another great kickoff pinning the Beef at the 5-yard line. The game was close. Beef wide receiver Jeremiah Oates handled kicking duties. He stepped up and made some clutch kicks to keep them in the game. At the end of the 4th quarter, we were tied 36-36.

The Beef scored first and made their extra point. Now we had to answer . . . and we did with an Iannotti pass to wide receiver Jordan Boykin for a touchdown. “Kick it”, I heard one of the coach’s yell. I ran out onto the field. Whistle blew, timeout. They changed their mind and decided to go for it. On the road and overtime, I wasn’t upset with this call. I ran off the field and waited to watch the play. All of a sudden they yelled, “Extra point” again. Oh man! I better make this one, I thought. I took my steps, I was so focused on the kick that I couldn’t even hear the Beef fans and their cowbells. The snap. The hold. The guy coming from the outside was untouched. Beef Defensive Lineman Kewan Alfred flew around the corner and blocked the kick. We lost 43-42.

Beef Defensive Lineman Kewan Alfred with the block

I was flooded with emotion. This was the biggest game of my career and also a game to solidify a playoff position. Before I could make my way over to my team to line up for high fives with the other team, Beef fans crowded around me asking for pictures and autographs. I was stunned by how many people came over. I’m used to a few fans coming over and saying, “Cool—a girl kicker”, but this time it was a lot!

Post-game autographs w/ Beef fans

Although we lost the game, I was extremely proud of my team. They, as did I, left everything on the field. We are on the road again next Saturday to face the Bloomington Edge. Kickoff is at 7pm! To stream the game live click HERE!

Follow me on Instagram @julieharsh or Twitter @julieharsh99.
For more coverage of the May 13, 2016 game Chicago Eagles vs Omaha Beef, here is Eagle reporter Danielle Bielawski’s recap.

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