NEWHALL - Kelsey Gonzalez has a little Amanda Whurlitzer in her.
Like the gutty pitcher played by Tatum O'Neal in "The Bad News Bears," Gonzalez isn't afraid to be on the same field with the boys. She's not afraid to get in their faces either.
Gonzalez is the kicker for the Golden Valley High football team. She is the only girl playing football in the Foothill League. The 17-year-old senior kicked two extra points in her team's 42-26 loss to Saugus on Friday night. But she had one of her point-after attempts blocked.
Golden Valley coach Andy Campbell said Gonzalez didn't hesitate to let one of her linemen know he missed a block and cost the team a crucial point.
Every point has been precious to the Golden Valley football team this year. The team has scored only seven touchdowns in eight games. Gonzalez has attempted only five point-after tries. Golden Valley's four-touchdown outburst against Saugus was its biggest output of the year.
Gonzalez contributed to her team's sudden surge, not that her coach had any doubts.
"She's pretty much automatic," Campbell said. "Having a player like that takes a lot off my mind. Her work ethic is unmatched."
Gonzalez makes the most of her opportunities. She says she grew up in a neighborhood of boys who liked to play football in the streets all the time. But it wasn't until her senior year of high school did she get the opportunity to play football for Golden Valley.
She says she wanted to play football as a freshman, but her mom wouldn't let her. Her mom was afraid her daughter would get hurt. Gonzalez said she convinced her mom to let her try out for the football team by raising her grades.
Her mom finally agreed and told her daughter to talk to the coach about trying out for the team.
"He gave me a tryout over the summer and I made the team," Gonzalez said. "It was really hard, because my tryout was doing everything during summer camp. We did weightlifting. We did a whole bunch of sprints. We worked our butts off. It was super hard, but I loved it. The team graciously accepted me. It was awesome."
Her playing time has been limited though. Golden Valley has been shut out five times. The team went three games in a row without scoring a touchdown. She was only on the field two times in the first seven games.
"It was hard. Our team was going through a tough time," Gonzalez said. "Now, the last game for instance, we scored four touchdowns, I got to kick three out of those four. Now we have the players that really matter and they are the ones dedicated to the game. That's why we're starting to score touchdowns again."
Campbell said he is happy to have the opportunity to coach Gonzalez, and just not for her kicking abilities.
"I'm trying to create a family atmosphere," Campbell said. "It's something that's that has been missing. She's just been awesome for us."
Gonzalez makes it no secret she wants to play more. She said she wants Campbell to let her do kickoffs. Campbell is taking a "let's see" approach to her request, but she might get her chance in the last two game of the year.
"I just wanted to be on the field," Gonzalez said. "I would play any other position my coaches wanted me to. I'm just doing PATs. Hopefully he let me do kickoffs one of these last two games. I'm still trying to convince him to let me do that."
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