LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The nation saw Vanderbilt’s soccer goalkeeper, Sarah Fuller, make history last weekend as the first woman to play in a Power Five conference college football game as the Commodores kicker, but before that history was made, a similar story was playing out on Lexington’s Dunbar High School team.
“I think that any girl can really come out here and do whatever they want to if they have the mindset for it and if they have the skill for it,” says Bethel Green, a senior, soccer player, and the first girl to play on Paul Laurence Dunbar’s football team.
Green set out to prove her point when she asked head football coach, Wes Johnson, for a shot to be one of the team’s kickers.
“He said yes,” Green recalls. “And I guess the first time that I ever gone up to kick I did fall, um, very badly, and the entire team was behind me laughing.”
But she didn’t give up.
“All of a sudden she looked up and said, ‘I got this,’ Johnson says.
“[She] went through and kicked it perfect- 35 yard field goal right down the middle of the uprights, and I was like, ‘Okay, we can do this.’”
Johnson says Green spent weeks after that getting comfortable and learning from the sidelines, until a teammate offered to let her take his place as kicker during a game against Lafayette.
“And so I freaked out, of course,” Green says. “It was my first game. I wasn’t really ready for it.”
But she was. She didn’t miss a kick, which included a 22-yard field goal, helping the team secure the victory.
“The excitement from my teammates and the coaches was just unbelievable,” Green says.
She says she grew up loving football, and looking at her brother, who played in high school and at the University of Kentucky, as her role model.
The fact that she’s the first girl in Dunbar’s history to play on the team isn’t lost on her.
“If you get the emotional strength to just believe in yourself and go out there and try it, you can really come through and do anything you want,” Green says.
In his 23 years of coaching, Johnson says this is the first time he’s had a girl on the team, but he views her just like anyone else.
“You don’t really think of the novelty of it, other than the fact that she’s just a good kicker that can score points for the team,” Johnson says.
Green says the team has been more like family.
“I love my team and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”
She also scored in the Friday night game against Bryan Station High School. Dunbar won, making them the new regional champions.