Female football player making Ocean Springs history
The Ocean Springs football program has more than 80 players on its varsity roster and one of them is a girl. But Kaylee Foster says she’s just one of the guys, minus the homecoming dress and high heels. She’s a tri-sport athlete with a strong right leg and even though soccer was her first true love, she’s making history for what she’s doing on the gridiron and that’s kicking like a girl.
“All she wants to do is come play football with us.”
“She can play, she can kick a ball.”
“Just another gal, doing anything that I can do.”
Ocean Springs Head Coach Ryan Ross said, “She’s gritty, she’s an athlete, she’s a competitor. I don’t think anybody out here cares that she’s a girl.”
Go to any Ocean Springs football practice and one of the first things you’ll notice is a braided ponytail coming from beneath one of the helmets. That’s Kaylee Foster. “In the sixth grade Coach Vic was like hey, come play football. I was like okay, sure. (And here you are?) Here I am.”
Yes, she’s a girl. “I get some special privileges, I get my own locker room.”
And she plays football with the boys on varsity and she’s good, too. Middle Linebacker Mitchell Bowie said, “I’ve seen her kick 50’s, it’s pretty great. (Make them?) Mhm.”
Kicker Ashton Garner said, “I’ve always been a bit jealous of her, cause she does good. She gets a lot of attention, and I’m proud of her for it. She’s a good kicker.”
Ashton Garner has been playing football with Kaylee since he was in eighth grade and she was in seventh, even then outkicking her coverage in a male dominated sport. Special Teams Coach David Beaugez said, “She was stronger than him as a seventh grader. Girls mature a little quicker, big strong leg. And now Ashton, of course, he can kick the ball a long way.”
“He’s definitely stronger than I am, I’ve just got to get stronger.”
“She’s just got to work out more.”
“Don’t skip leg day, right?”
“Don’t skip leg day.”
“Exactly, never skip leg day.”
Last year, Foster made the jump up to varsity as a sophomore, but never once saw the field. That changed this year in a home game versus Murrah when Special Teams Coach David Beaugez finally called her number. “Ashton was running out onto the field and he went stop! And I went, he looked at me and I went no. And he was like yeah, let’s go. (Spur of the moment, and let it roll.) Oh yeah, I was like if I miss this as I see my car I’m walking straight off the field. Like I’m not even coming back, like I’m out.”
“I jumped. I was screaming. I was so excited.”
“And it was a great applause for her when it, I mean it landed on the track. She got it pretty good.”
“It definitely made everything worth it, like being out here since freshman year, like made everything like all like the blood, sweat and tears honestly.”
That extra point counts just the same off the foot of a guy or a girl, but considering the latter had never previously happened at Ocean Springs, it counts for much more in the Greyhound record books.
“Kicked the first extra point by a female in Ocean Springs history.”
“First girl, I don’t know it’s just exciting. I don’t want to like say it’s a big deal, but it’s just kind of cool.”
Kaylee’s story continues on homecoming night. She’s been on the court all three years of high school which makes for a little bit of an identity crisis when she says yes to the dress right before kickoff. “Technically I’m supposed to be changed. But hey, I’m on my way.”
“She’s our homecoming queen every week, as far as football players are concerned.”
(“Are you going to kick with the high heels on tonight?”) “Oh, if only. If only.”
When her good friend Ashton graduates after this season, Kaylee will have every opportunity to win the starting job as a senior. Wide Receiver Malcom Magee said “She gets in and she’s a good kicker, but it’s kind of like why not give her a shot?”
But until then, she’s just another one of the guys, a sibling, a very capable back-up, and most importantly, a trailblazer. “I think it’s a good like movement for us, just to prove that we can do anything that we want to do as long as we work hard enough. So I think it’s something really special,” said Foster.
“That’s our job to allow them to do that, we’re a facilitator. So if she wants to keep competing, and she’s the guy, or the gal, so to speak, so be it. But I’m not going to be the guy that didn’t let anybody play just cause they’re a girl,” said Ross.
Kaylee is also the starting kicker for the junior varsity team and once nailed a game-winning field goal on the ninth grade squad. Last season, she was part of the south state champion girls soccer team and was a state qualifier in hurdles.
The Greyhounds return to action tomorrow at D’Iberville for a 7 p.m. kickoff.