By Todd Lamb
Athletics Communication Coordinator
The football team at Wilmer-Hutchins High School has won all three games so far this season, and while that is noteworthy, the team is getting attention for another reason.
Junior Jacqueline A. is the team’s kicker, at least when it comes to points after touchdown or “P-A-Ts.” In the team’s first home game against Fort Worth Dunbar, she made all three of her attempts in the team’s 33-7 victory.
She admitted she was nervous kicking a football in front of a big crowd, but those butterflies disappeared after connecting on her first kick. When she returned to the sideline and took off her helmet, she could hear people in the crowd asking, surprised, “She’s a girl?”
Then, in game two, a road game at Fort Worth Southwest, she made two of three tries. She rushed the third, and it missed the uprights.
But Jackie, as everyone knows her on campus, is believed to be the school’s first female football player, and she is surprising her teammates and coaches, though in a different way than you might think.
“I’m surprised she’s not 7 for 7,” Elzie Barnett, the head football coach and Wilmer-Hutchins campus athletic coordinator, said. “It never entered my mind that she would miss.”
When last year’s kicker decided not to return for the 2023 season, that created Jackie’s opportunity. The opportunity might not have come without the encouragement of girls’ soccer coach Afi George, who coached Jackie, an all-district soccer player for the Eagles.
“The way she strikes the ball, you could hear that foot come off the ball, and it was that nice solid thud you get when it’s a good kick,” Barnett said. “I was sold from the very first time I saw her kick a football.”
Her new teammates on the football team already knew what she could do as a defender on the soccer pitch and welcomed her immediately, especially after they saw her first kickback in August. The team began working on special teams, and it was time for her to kick.
“When she made that first P-A-T, the whole team erupted with cheers,” Barnett said. “I was at ease after that. She’s a winner. If we protect her, she will make the kick every time.”
On her first try last Saturday at Fort Worth North Side, a bad snap kept her from kicking. When the team scored its second touchdown, it went for two instead, but they couldn’t convert the try, and the game ended with a 12-9 victory.
Playing football is something Jackie has wanted to do from the time she was six years old, so when the coaching staff reached out to her about the chance to join the football team, it was like a dream come true for her.
It’s hard to say what lies ahead for her, but for now, she’s embracing her unique role on the football team.
“When girls see this, I feel like they’re going to want to try,” she said. “I know a lot of girls can kick, and some of them can probably do it better than me, but for now, I’m going to make the most of this opportunity. I want to kick this year and next year, too.”
She has a place on the team and is blazing her trail.
“To us, the men who are coaching football, she’s already a legend,” Barnett said. “To the players, she’s a barrier breaker.
“We are super excited about this. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything different than anyone else would do. When you watch football, women are coaching football, women are playing in semi-professional leagues, and women are officiating football. It only makes sense that Dallas ISD provides this opportunity for one of our students.”
Her next chance comes Thursday night at Wilmer-Hutchins Stadium against Hillcrest at 7 p.m.