Pender High School athlete joins growing trend of girls playing on football teams

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:06 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - According to the National Federation of State High Schools Association, since 2008, the number of girls playing varsity football has gone from around 500 to almost 3,000 nationwide.

Editor’s Note: This story was originally posted on Oct. 12, 2021. It is now being brought back after winning the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters award for Outstanding Sports Story.

Kattie Horrell, a Pender High School senior, is part of that growing trend. She is the kicker for the boy’s football team. She always liked football, but never imagined trying out for the team until someone told her she couldn’t do it.

“At first it started out as a joke between me, my dad, and my brother. I said I’m going out for the football team. I came out and everyone told me I couldn’t do it so it made me want to do it even more. And I eventually fell in love with the sport.”

Horrell made it her goal to show everyone she could do it and succeed. She knew she would have challenges, but that made her try even harder.

“All the guys on the football team were like, ‘are you sure you want to do this, you’re going to be out here, you’re not going to succeed, you’re a girl, you’re not going to be good enough...’ but I just use that to motivate me. I don’t expect special treatment because I’m a girl; that’s not why I came out here. I want them to treat me just like I’m one of the guys,” said Horrell.

To be one of the guys, Horrell would have to practice like one of the guys, and that meant making a tackle.

“At first I was like, ‘oh no, he’s going to run me over,’ but once I hit him, I started to feel bad for him because everybody was picking on him. But I was like, ‘I did that,’” said Horrell.

Even if her team accepted her, she would have to show opposing teams that she means business.

“At first they give me weird looks... like they’re down in the shelter and like, ‘is that really a girl? Like okay let’s go get her,’ or something. And I’m like, ‘Okay... I like the challenge,” said Horrell.

This experience has allowed Horrell to tackle just about anything in her life.

“It’s made me realize no matter how many people tell me I can’t do it that I can do it. And as long as I keep trying, I will accomplish my goal. I feel like it’s made me who I am. I feel like I’m a stronger person altogether,” said Horrell.

And she’s proud to set an example for lots of young girls out there.

“If I can accomplish it and I put my mind to it, then they can too. All it takes is hard work and determination. If you believe in yourself, eventually others will believe in you too. It took a lot of failures to succeed, but I got back up and it was really worth it,” said Horrell.

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