Ben Raby, wtop.com
MANASSAS, Va. - When Mariah Nichols readies for a field goal at Osbourn Park High School, the blond locks poking through her helmet are hard to miss.
"That's a girl out there," coach Rodney Hodgson says.
"It's not a boy with long hair."
Nichols is in fact the only girl on Osbourn Park's varsity football team, and it's a role the kicker embraces. The senior also plays on the girls' soccer team but wanted a fall sport to fill her schedule.
"Hey, girl power," Nichols says. "I think every girl should come out and try something new. It's been awesome and I just wish I would have joined the team sooner."
Nichols says that there's "definitely more pressure" to succeed given that some doubt her abilities and whether she takes her role seriously.
"[Last] November when I started my weightlifting [with the team], they were like, 'You're not going to do it, I'll bet you $50 …' so I hope to be collecting soon," says Nichols.
Through four games this season, Nichols already has collected plenty of respect from teammates and coaches, and she's having fun to boot.
"It was kind of neat at the beginning when she was making field goals, the team would cheer for her," Hodgson says. "We have two other kickers, they'd make their field goals and there would be nothing said. But when she'd kick her field goals, everybody cheered."
Regardless of how the rest of the season goes, Nichols says the experience of joining the football team has been worthwhile.
"The guys are awesome," Nichols says. "They really accepted me from the minute I stepped on the field."
Nichols still plans to play soccer next spring, and hopes to play collegiately as well at a NCAA Division II or Division III school. She also hopes to pursue nursing.
For more on Nichols and another female kicker at a Virginia high school, watch the video from InsideNova below:
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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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