Kicker Crawley helping to bolster Foard special teams

When fans of the Fred T. Foard football team and spectators alike show up at the FCA Jamboree on Wednesday, they will all notice a new addition to the Tigers’ kicking game.

After the departures of part-time kickers Zach Schellenberger and Tanner Fleming, senior Rebecca Crawley joins the Tigers to aid their special teams.

She is the only female football player in any of the seven Catawba County high schools this fall.

Crawley said she initially thought about playing football at Foard a while back, but taking weight training classes with Foard head football coach Jason Phelps helped seal the deal.

“I’ve thought about it since freshman year,” she said. “This past year, I had coach Phelps as a weight training teacher. I was in class with all the football guys. One day, I just went out on the field, tried to kick field goals and did pretty good that day. I just decided I would try and give kicking a shot.”

Foard lineman Alex Lusk was taking the weight training class with Crawley when he first saw her performance on the field.

“She’s got a boot on her,” he said. “You would be amazed at how hard she can kick. One day, she was probably kicking close to a 40-yard field goal. That kind of makes me jealous.”

After asking Phelps to serve as Foard’s kicker, Crawley continued to work out with Foard football players over the summer.

Teammate Nathaniel Caldwell said having Crawley around workouts helped develop a special team chemistry.

“It was kind of weird at first having a girl come in to weight training with a bunch of guys,” he said. “We all just adapted to her and got used to her after a while. I think she is going to help us a lot because she is a really, really good kicker.”

Phelps said that having Crawley on the team helps add an element the Tigers lacked last year.

“I think it always helps if you have a solid kicker,” he said. “I’m hoping she will get better overall and better with her range. She has not kicked against a rush yet. We’re waiting to see how that will go. We’ll practice it a little bit Tuesday and see how it goes with the field goal team.”

As for the chance to win a football game for the Tigers on one kick, Crawley said she hopes she gets the opportunity this season.

“That would be awesome,” she said. “There would definitely be more pressure in the situation because you have everyone focused on you. It’s up to you to make a game-winning field goal.”