Most Unique Kicker
Jamie M. Eubanks
JSU News Bureau
JACKSONVILLE -- July 23, 2001 -- Jacksonville State University's Gamecocks have a new extra point kicker from Coweta County, Georgia. This athlete had never touched a football until a high school coach saw the talent of this young person. But from that moment, Ashley Martin has been kicking field goals and extra points. What's unique about Ashley is that she is a female.
Ashley Martin had just quit softball, but she was very athletic and had a thirst for competition. Her parents knew the high school coaches very well and they all decided to give Ashley a chance.
"I don't know how it all happened," says Martin. "The coach handed me the ball, and I kicked it. I laughed the entire time."
Though she had never touched the ball before, she was an amazing athlete. So on Monday she was kicking the ball around with her parents and the coach. By Friday, she was kicking field goals and extra points for East Coweta County High School.
After graduating high school, Martin came to JSU. Here she plays soccer. Recently, Head Football Coach Jack Crowe gave Martin a call.
"We lost our kicker from last year," says Crowe, "and we're approaching this year to rebuild. And to rebuild with efficiency and at a faster pace, we've decided to use two kickers -- one for short range and another for long range."
And while a female player is a new endeavor for Crowe, he's very confident in his choice.
"I would be uncomfortable if I couldn't rely on her experience," he adds. "But there is no better competitor than Ashley Martin."
And in Martin's eyes, she needs no special exceptions. All she requires is a separate dressing room -- no special equipment and no special treatment.
"I don't think about the fact that I may be the first girl to play for Jacksonville State University's football team. They've given me a job and I'm going to do it -- girl or not."
And Martin plans to do both jobs of playing soccer and football. "We're not really sure how it will all work out with practice schedules," says Martin. "But I plan to play both."
Though this may be a first for NCAA Division I football, Crowe's confidence in his new kicker is so strong that he "expects her to score the first extra point of year" for JSU.
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