17-Year-Old is Autauga Academy's First Female Football Player

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By Ashley Thompson

The Autauga Academy Generals have received a lot of attention lately and it's not just because they're seen success on the football field but also because they've got a new, unconventional face on the team this year.

17-year-old Kayla Gandy is Autauga Academy's first ever female football player. And she's pretty good. In her short, high school football career, she's made nine extra points and has missed just three. She's the talk of the town but she tells us it all started as a joke.

"I was actually joking around with Coach Sims and I had a football in my hand and I said, so are you going to let me play football? And he said you can kick if you want to and I said really?"

So Head Football Coach Mike Sims had Kayla attempt a few field goals and she made all of them. Sims tells us it was perfect timing, because the team needed a kicker but says Kayla wasn't just given the position because she was a girl, she had to earn it.

"People know that if we put product on the field, then it's because they've earned the right because it's based off merit."

Kayla has 13 years of soccer experience, playing center mid-fielder for Autauga Academy and helping the team reach semi-finals last year. But she says none of that helped prepare her emotionally for football.

"It's nerve wrecking because soccer is not a big deal around here so it's like there's 50 people in the stands," she says. "Football, you have like 500 people out there watching."

And out there watching at every game, is Kayla's dad, Dale Gandy. He says he never thought twice about supporting his daughter's football career.

"All you ever want for your kids, probably any parent, is for your kids to get opportunities," he says. "So it's a blessing I guess that Coach Sims and Autauga Academy have given her this opportunity."

So, what's it like being the only girl on the gridiron Friday Nights? Kayla says her teammates make her feel right at home and tells us she sees them as brothers. Running back Eric Graham echoes her in saying that she really is just like one of the guys.

"She's a human being just like the rest of us. She can just kick better than us."

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