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Athens Drive H.S. Gets A 'Kick' Out Of Female Football Player

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RALEIGH — The testosterone will be pumping when the high school football regular season gets underway on Friday. In the game of hard knocks, one Raleigh team will get a real kick out of its feminine side.

This year's Athens Drive Jaguars have a new look. A member of the special teams wears eye make-up and long hair. Senior Bonnie Clarke decided to kick her way into a man's sport.

"It's just fun to me because I usually kick soccer balls always too far, so I thought I could kick footballs far too," she says.

Clarke thought right. Head coach Larry Simons calls her the most consistent short distance kicker on the team. He says he could care less about the gender.

"I don't care anything other than if she can help us score points. I'm happy," Simons says.

Crossing into a man's sport, Clarke says she has been received well with some friendly ribbing.

"They're just like, 'Oh, there's a girl' or 'Hey Bonnie,' when I make it," she says.

Senior Marc Kamec says he does not mind having a female as a teammate.

"I thought it was pretty cool. I mean, as long as she can get the job done, I really don't care," he says. "If she kicks the ball through the field goal, it's fine with me. I don't care if she's a guy or girl."

Clarke is no stranger to athletic competition. Each day, she leaves football practice to join her teammates on the undefeated tennis team. She also plays soccer, swims and runs indoor track.

On Friday night, she hopes to kick open another door of opportunity.

"I'm excited. I'm scared I'm going to freak out when I'm out there," she says. "But hopefully, I'll be kicking. My mom just says she just doesn't want me to get squished."

Clarke and the rest of the Athens Drive Jaguars open their season Friday against Apex.


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