Kicking like a girl


Haley Grooms

Madison stands on the sidelines of the homecoming game, waiting for action.

Haley Grooms and Parker Hopkins

She kicks like a girl. With strength and precision like a girl, she sails the football in between the neon posts. Senior Maddy Barch is a girl, and is the best and only one on the varsity football team.

Over the summer, Barch participated in Pro Kicker Camp at Detroit Country Day. The camp was two days long, where Barch and other participants learned how to kick and punt for football.

“I ended up coming out first in punting and got invited to the top prospect camp in Knoxville,” Barch said. “I was the first girl ever invited.”

Being the first girl at the camp, Barch got to set records for many aspects of the camp activities.

“They’ve never had a girl make their 40-yard field goals and further,” Barch said. “I made 90% of them. I only missed the 35-yard field goal, so I made my 30-, 35-, 40-, 45-, 50-yard field goal on each half.”

Adding on to her list of accomplishments, Barch was also the offensive player of the week for week one of the Detroit Free Press’ polls. This is the first time that a female has won this position.

“She has always been amazing at sports; even in elementary school, she was so sporty,” senior Ashley Siluk said. “I was on the soccer team with her for three years and she’s always been a leader and she really knows how to own the team. She always wanted to kick and she’s always wanted to be the first woman NFL player to kick.”

Football has been a pretty exclusively male sport in the past, but in recent years, more girls have been joining teams. While some find this intimidating or awkward, Barch doesn’t.

“I love [being the only girl], because I think it gives me a little more motivation,” Barch said.

This motivation may lead Barch into college.

“I think some colleges might like it and some might want to stay away from it. Whatever college offers me something, I’ll probably take it.”

Aug. 29 was the first game of the football season, the game ending in a 37-34 win for Utica. This close win was thanks to Barch, who broke the previous tie with a three-point field goal.

“That was the craziest moment of my life; I don’t remember actually kicking it,” Barch said. “I just remember stepping up being super nervous and the next thing I saw was the ball go through and I was just so excited about it.”

Many of Barch’s teammates also applaud her for challenging the gender stereotype in football. The team says that they are lucky to have her.

“She’s by far the best kicker [on the team] and opens up a lot of opportunities for girls who want to play the game. She worked hard and worked her way up to compete,” senior varsity starter Chad Goodwine said. “It shows that gender doesn’t only matter on this team, and she definitely fits in well. It’s not weird to have a girl on the team at all either.”

Barch puts in a lot of work to make sure that the football team can succeed. One of the things the entire team focuses on the most is trust and determination.

“She’s just very reliable, we trust her to punt for us, kick, field goals. We trust that she’s going to do a great job over time. She does her job very well and has trust in all the players, all the coaches,” coach Matthew Marulli said. “She comes through all the time and she does a great job. She deserves her recignition because she’s a great kicker and a great punter and she works very hard. All her successes come from hard work and dedication.”

Barch shows that anyone can do the things they aspire to do.

“Just do what you know how to do, it’s not that hard… as long as you know what you’re doing.”