2016 is quickly becoming the year of the kicker, but not at all in the way you might expect. For decades, kickers have lived a less than charmed existence. They're expected to boom every kickoff into the end zone and nail every field goal regardless of the distance. When they don't, they're ostracized and sometimes referred to as "not really football players." Worst of all, they're used for target practice during kickoffs and punts, getting pummeled as they jog down the field as the last line of defense against long kick returns. (Who can forget Sean Taylor's destruction of Brian Moorman in the 2006 Pro Bow?)
But in 2016, kickers are fighting back.
Penn State's giant kicker Joey Julius has garnered much of the attention so far, as he seems to have made it his mission to dole out huge hits in the name of kickers everywhere, demolishing kick returners from Kent State and Michigan alike. But another hero has emerged, however unlikely, on the kicker crusade for justice, and her name is Kelly Macnamara.
Macnamara is a junior kicker at North Penn High School (Towamencin Township, Pennsylvania) and the first female football player in her school's history—and her story is fascinating.
An avid soccer player since she was 5, Macnamara had never kicked a football when she heard the high school football team was without a kicker after its previous kicker graduated. Spurred on by a confidence gained from kicking a soccer ball all her life, Macnamara joined the team as a sophomore, and she's flashed her kicking power on both kickoffs and field goals. But perhaps her most important play came over the weekend, when she sent a kick returner flying into the sidelines with her shoulder.
— Kelly Macnamara (@kellmac_) October 9, 2016
After booting a kickoff that was returned up the left sideline by Central Bucks High School East's kick returner, Macnamara came screaming in out of nowhere, lowering her shoulder and rocking said returner out of bounds. The crowd went nuts. In the video Macnamara posted to her Twitter account, you can hear the videographer yell "KELLY!" at the top of his lungs. It is awesome.
According to MaxPreps, Macnamara is the fourth-rated kicker in all of Pennsylvania. But she's more than that. She's an American hero, and a beacon of light for downtrodden kickers everywhere.
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