females in sports

December 10, 1997

With all of our discussion of Title IX, etc., I thought you might enjoy
this article about a possible new opportunity for women in Division I
sports. The article was published in the Independent Florida Alligator,
the newspaper for the students at the University of Florida.


Katherine A. Phillips
Coordinator, Gender Equity in the Physical Sciences
University of Missouri-Columbia
223 Physics Bldg
Columbia, MO 65211
FAX 573-882-4195

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 07:54:43 +0000
From: Raymond Hines III <solari@gte.net>
Reply-To: GatorTalk@dvs.nuphase.com
To: gatornews@dvs.nuphase.com
Subject: Gators may have a female kicker

UF soccer recruit may kick down

Incoming freshman could become first female football
player in Division-I history

Alligator Staff Writer

Behind the metal bleachers and on the soggy green grass, a
group of little girls slowly gathers.

Though they may seem oblivious to the high school game
unfolding on the football field a few yards away, the
youngsters are aware of the situation. Featured in the
game is their new role model.

To these girls, former Clearwater Countryside place-kicker
Jamie Theil represents someone who has crossed the gender
lines with success on a field once reserved only for

Their gathering is symbolic of Theil's newfound

"You always see a bunch of little boys pretending they
were the players on the field," former Countryside
football coach Bob Gobel said. "With Jamie, it was the
first time I saw little girls at the game kicking cups
behind the stands and saying, 'Look, I'm Jamie Theil.' She
had quite an influence on them."

And now Theil could have an influence on the UF football
program as well as Division I football. Currently a senior
at Countryside, Theil has orally committed to play with
the UF soccer team for the 1998 season.

When Theil arrives in Gainesville, however, she may
prolong her football career. Theil said she and UF coach
Steve Spurrier spoke during her recruiting visit in
September about walking on to the Gator football team.

If she does, Theil would become the first female to play
in a Division I football game.

The start Yet Theil almost did not play football at all in
high school. The 5-foot-9, 135-pounder filled her time
earning all-state honors in soccer along with playing
volleyball and running track.

During the spring of her sophomore year in 1996, several
of her friends on the football team approached her about
joining the squad because the place-kicker had

They knew she could kick because of her soccer background.
Theil decided to give it a shot.

"The only reason I played in high school is because they
asked me to do it," Theil said. "I would never have
thought of it if they hadn't asked me."

Theil's kicking abilities immediately impressed Gobel, who
told her she made the team after watching her kick some
footballs during track practice.

"I said if she was the best, she'd be the kicker, and she
was," Gobel said. "She had more range, accuracy and
distance than all of the guys."

Theil's soccer coach at Countryside, Tony Atherholt,
thinks some guys may have been scared away from trying out
because they saw the power in Theil's leg.

That strength showed through during the fall season's
practice as well as in the games. Theil made 22 of 23
extra points, handled all kickoff duties and hit a
career-long 43-yarder in a game her junior year.

She even said she hit 50-yarders in practice. Yet Theil's
drive made more of an impact.

"She is one of the most competitive kids I've ever
coached," Gobel said. "I would love to coach more guy
football players with her tenacity and competitiveness. I
think that's what makes her an above-average athlete."

Theil showed that toughness in each game. It shined
brightest, however, when she made two game-saving tackles
- the second to launch her team into the playoffs.

After kickoffs, Theil was supposed to run off the field to
avoid being tackled. But one time, the returner got past
her teammates and the coaches urged her to stay on the
field to make the tackle.

That she did.

"He just flattened her," said Joyce Theil, Jamie's mother.
"I nearly lost my cookies. I thought she was dead. She
felt like a freight train hit her the next few days."

Theil, however, made a second game-saving tackle later
that season, but this time, she pushed the runner out of

The finish Theil's high school football career would end a
few games later in the playoffs. She never kicked her
senior year.

For Theil, being a four-sport star had its disadvantages.
Her grades began to drop, and she had to endure three
practices a day. Theil began feeling sick because she
could not get enough sleep.

So she decided to concentrate on her other sports, mainly
soccer. Despite that decision, Theil remembers what UF
running backs coach Carl Franks said to her after he
watched her kick in a football game last season.

"He said, 'You've got a real nice leg. Do you want to
continue that in college?' " Theil said. "And I said, 'I'd
rather continue soccer in college.' "

Nonetheless, Theil would walk on to the football team if
Spurrier asked her to - even if it was just to kick an
extra point at the end of a blowout.

NCAA rules, however, prohibit a student-athlete from
obtaining aid in a non-football sport and then playing in
a football game.

Theil has the option to decline her soccer scholarship and
walk on to the soccer and football teams without violating
NCAA rules.

"Financially we could handle that, but I think we'd have
to think long and hard about what's best for the family
and what's best for her," Joyce Theil said. "Soccer comes
first and we would have to think about it."

Though Theil may be getting just that one chance at
kicking on the Division-I level, she wants to make it

That would give a whole new generation of little girls the
hope of becoming the next Jamie Theil.

"In the first game, if I screw up, everyone's going to
think this is a big joke," Theil said. "People think girls
aren't supposed to be out there. They don't think we have
the guts to do it. They say, 'Oh, you're a little girl and
you're little prisses and you can't do anything.' "But
I've always been competitive and I think it would be cool
to be the first girl to kick."


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