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Female Kicker for the Akron Firestone's Falcons 2009/2010

   Article and 43-Yard Goal Video:

 

WKYC Video    

WKYC Article/Video

FOX SPORTS Video

Fox Sports Article

 

 

Yahoo Sports: Alana Gaither's field goal just shy of national record

       Updated: 10/20/2010 4:59:55 PM  Posted: 10/20/2010 1:55:22 PM

AKRON -- The 43-yard field goal kick made by Firestone's Alana Gaither last week did not quite set a national record. But it was awfully close.

 

"Prep Rally" Blogger Cameron Smith for Yahoo Sports posted a story on Gaither's kick this week.

In a follow-up post, Smith said he had confirmed through multiple sources that, in 2004, Heidi Garret hit a 48-yard field goal for Riverside King High School in Southern California.

Firestone High School Athletic Director Brian Fuller said Wednesday that a student had told him about the other kick just this morning.

Fuller added that nothing can take away from Gaither's accomplishment.

As for Gaither, the 43-yard field goal kick has brought her national attention, including requests from ESPN.

 

© 2010 WKYC-TV

Female kickers across the country generally generate attention for two things: Playing football and being female. Akron, Ohio's Alana Gaither, however, is earning serious acclaim for a third reason: She's a truly outstanding kicker, as backed up by a recent field goal believed to be the longest ever made by a girl in a competitive football game, at the high school level or higher.

According to Akron's WKYC.com, Gaither hit a 43-yard field goal just before halftime during her Firestone (Ohio) High School team's 45-6 win over city rival Ellet on Oct. 8. The kick was the final play of the first half and easily sailed through the uprights, with some in attendance estimating the kick would have easily been good from 48 yards, too.

"I was like, 'Coach, I'm feeling good,'" Gaither told Firestone coach Tim Flossie, according to WKYC. "I can do it. I know I can."

The Akron Beacon-Journal reported that John Gillis, the assistant director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, has said that the kick qualifies as a national record for a female high school kicker. Further research has failed to find any evidence of a kick made by a female kicker from farther than 43 yards in college football, which would mean Gaither's record extends beyond just high school football.

The 43-yarder was the first field goal Gaither had hit from beyond 40 yards in a game, though she has reportedly connected on kicks from beyond 50 yards in practice. Having seen that, Gaither's teammates were hardly surprised when she nailed her record-setting kick in a game.

"Before [the kick] it was like, 'You'd better not miss it because you could make history here,'" Gaither's teammate and Ohio State-commitment Tommy Brown told WKYC. "Then she kicked it. I was just like, 'Wow, I knew she could do it.'"

While her kicks from distance are garnering most of the attention, Gaither's accuracy is often touted as her greatest asset. Her coach said that she routinely hits 8-of-10 attempts from beyond 40 yards in practice, and he said he's confident enough in her ability to trust her with an attempt of 50 yards or farther. Through her team's first seven games, Gaither hit 27-of-29 extra points and was a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals, all from beyond 30 yards.

If the rest of the nation wasn't paying attention to Gaither's exploits, at least a few collegiate coaches were. While the soccer star is considering playing that sport in college, Gaither said she's received more than a few letters recruiting her to play football, too.

"I've gotten a handful of [football recruiting] letters," Gaither told WKYC. "I'm sure that half of those might not even recognize that I'm a girl."

If they didn't know Gaither's sex before, they probably do now, and her recent success can only make them more interested. To get that kind of collegiate attention is a heck of a compliment when you consider the Firestone senior is a self-taught kicker who only began practicing with footballs after her freshman year.

"I went over there and saw these girls kicking the heck out of the ball," Flossie said. "And she was the youngest one and kicked it the farthest.

"And she was bugging a couple of coaches, like a week later, for a bag of footballs," said Flossie. "And we gave it to her. And she's done it by herself."

While Gaither doesn't need to share the credit for her accomplishment, that's precisely what she did when asked what the kick meant to her.

"If there's anything I want people to get out of this story, it's just how well my team has treated me during this entire experience," Gaither told WKYC. "A lot of them have grown to be my best friend."

 

Ohio girl Alana Gaither kicks 43-yard field goal

Distance believed to be a national record for a girl; she's 4-4 this year.

Thumbnail image of this articles writer: Dave Krider Friday, October 15, 2010
By: Dave Krider | MaxPreps.com
Football and Field Goal
Photo: Photo by RonAlmog

Firestone football player Alana Gaither sets state record for longest field goal by a female

She's not the first female to play high school football, and she certainly won't be the last.

But Alana Gaither has received a lot of attention lately for her range, accuracy and abilities as the place kicker for Firestone High School's football team. A senior who joined the team after head coach Tim Flossie held a tryout three years ago that included soccer players, Gaither connected on a 43-yard field goal just before halftime on Oct.8 against Ellet. Firestone went on to win the game 45-6 and the kick was believed to be the longest field goal recorded by a female.

First reported by the Akron Beacon Journal, the feat generated buzz on Cleveland television stations WJW and WKYC as well as national outlets such as Yahoo.com, USA Today, FoxSports.com, ESPN Rise and MaxPreps.com.

Although Gaither's kick was initially believed to be a national high school record for a female kicker, further research has indicated that California girl Heidi (Garrett) Gassaway from Riverside's Martin Luther King High School booted a 48-yard field goal in 2004. She'll settle for a City Series and state record instead.

Gaither, a first team All-City series selection each of the last two years, is 27-of-29 on extra point attempts and 4-of-4 on field goals for the Falcons so far this season. She also excels in the classroom, as a member of the track team and as a standout forward for the girls soccer team. Gaither scored four goals in a game against Nordonia earlier this season.

Firestone, a team that also features offensive lineman and Ohio State recruit Tommy Brown, has two games remaining on the schedule. The Falcons travel to Garfield tonight and will host Buchtel on Oct. 29 in the season finale.


 

Team Stats
Football - Special Teams-Kicking
Statistic FGM FGA FG% FG-LNG XPM XPA # PUNTS PUNT-YDS PUNT-AVG
                   
Alana Gaither 7 6 116.7% 43 45 43 --- --- ---
 

 

 

 

Website Courtesy of her Dad, Bob Gaither

 

 

Just Another Face in the Crowd

Coach Doup and Alana Gaither

Coach Tim Doup congratulates Gaither after scoring her first collegiate point.

Written by Adam Prescott

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When did you start kicking a football? How did the idea even come about? How do the guys on the team treat you? Where do you get dressed in the locker room?

These are just a few of the questions that Otterbein University sophomore Alana Gaither has been asked since 2008, when she first  began competing as a place-kicker for the Akron Firestone High School football team. If you have a question for Gaither, chances are that she’s already weighed in on the topic, maintaining a smile the entire time.

Gaither played three varsity seasons for Firestone from 2008-10, kicking field goals and extra points while the team’s second kicker handled the kickoff and punting duties. Her senior season was highlighted by a 43-yard field goal, and though no official records are kept, it is believed to be a national record for a female.

Gaither, who naturally received local attention and exposure for performing in a male-dominated sport, ultimately landed at Otterbein and continued to pursue a goal of kicking at the collegiate level.

 

 

Alana Gaither

 

“When I first arrived, I think some people initially heard about my plan and maybe thought I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” the 5-5, 128-pound Gaither said. “The team immediately embraced me and it’s been a regular situation ever since. I understand that it’s unusual for others and new to the people of Otterbein or the Westerville community. It’s just not new to me.”

“We didn’t miss a beat when she arrived,” senior captain Chad Pepper said. “The female aspect has no influence on our thoughts, especially since her skills set her apart from any stereotype. We’ve looked at Alana as nothing else but a football player from day one because she was never doing this for a wrong reason.”

A preseason ankle injury unfortunately ended her freshman campaign, but Gaither is now back on the field and locked in a battle with classmate Nick Ganus for the starting job. Ganus was the preferred kicker during the team’s season-opening win over Gallaudet University due to his kick trajectory, helping avoid the rush of a 6-6 defensive lineman for the Bison who entered the game with four blocks to his credit.

However, Gaither registered her first appearance in Saturday’s 54-10 victory at Wilmington College, making 3 of 4 extra-point attempts to become the first female in Otterbein’s 122-year football history to record a point.

“I have a female kicker… so what?” head coach Tim Doup said. “She is a calm, level-headed, consistent kicker. I think people are assuming that we’re only going to insert her when the game is out of hand, but that’s not the case at all.”

Despite making three extra points, the fact remains that Gaither did miss her first attempt, a moment that she was not overly pleased with.

“No excuses on that one, I just completely shanked it,” Gaither said with a slight laugh. “The snap and hold were perfect, I just missed it. I was embarrassed, but I walked off the field and was overwhelmed with support from everyone. We’re all so supportive of one another, and that camaraderie is a special feeling that you can’t really get unless you play college athletics.”

Having finally played in her first game, Gaither hopes fans and followers will soon think nothing out of the ordinary when she trots out onto the field. After all, she is first to highlight some of her notable teammates, including Ganus, who converted the same amount of kicks against Wilmington… yet nobody makes mention.

 

"We are off to a great start and there is such a good vibe within the team. I don't think what I'm doing needs to get in the way of that."
                  - Alana Gaither

“The last thing I want is to cause a distraction or too much attention,” Gaither said. “We’re off to a great start and there is such a good vibe within the team. Everyone is a lot closer this season, so I don’t think what I’m doing needs to get in the way of that.”

While the outside public may want to hoot and holler, those that feel most comfortable are the players and coaches within the locker room.

“It’s understandable that people want to recognize her because of the unique situation, but we’re all very aware of the subject and it’s never caused commotion,” Doup said. “Alana has handled the situation better than anyone could ask of her. She understands the concept of a team effort and doesn’t think it’s fair that everyone wants to spotlight her above others. It’s never been just about her.”

Adding another dimension to the equation is Gaither’s other sport. That’s correct. Not only is she a multi-sport athlete, but a multi-sport athlete within the same season. In addition to football, you will also find Gaither on the roster for women’s soccer, a sport that she has played competitively since the third grade. She has appeared in three matches so far this fall, recording an assist during a recent victory over Hiram College.

“I have so much respect and appreciation for Brandon (Koons) and the women’s soccer girls for allowing me to do this,” said Gaither, who gives football priority on Saturdays when the two schedules overlap. “I feel that I’m just as close with them as I am with the football guys. I’m always leaving early or arriving late to practices, so I can’t thank each team enough for being understanding.”

“Being a multi-sport athlete is tough at any level, let alone playing two in one season,” said Pepper, who is most proud of Gaither for fighting back from the ankle injury. “I think it’s all a credit to her determination and athletic ability, because she’s a competitor and knows what she wants to do. Alana never seems to miss a beat and I’ve never witnessed her letting any conflict get in the way.”

Anyone taking notice of Gaither’s situation should be sure to note the manner in which she handles it.

“My number one rule is that if anyone wants to take a picture or do an on-camera interview, there need to be teammates with or behind me,” she explained. “I will never pose for a picture by myself.”

“Nobody thinks twice that I’m a female anymore,” Gaither added. “I’ll probably look back someday and realize how unique it was, but right now it’s about me doing my job and contributing the best I can. I’m a kicker for the Otterbein football team and I always keep my focus on that.”

A Public Relations major, Gaither hopes to one day work for a professional sports organization and dreams of finding a summer internship with the Cleveland Browns. In the meantime, she will continue to go about her day-to-day activities as a football place-kicker, soccer forward, and above all else, a regular college student.

So if you become wide-eyed the next time you see her head onto the football field, just know that Alana Gaither, her teammates, and the Cardinal coaching staff think little of it.
 

 

www.otterbeincardinals.com/news/2012/9/18/FB_0918124011.aspx

Otterbein360

Ponytail aside, Alana Gaither is a typical teammate

By JAZYMNE FLOWE
Updated: 09/25/12 8:26pm
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Alana Gaither has even been featured on Yahoo! Sports.
 

For more than 100 years, football has always seemed to be a man’s game. But Otterbein football player Alana Gaither wanted to change that tradition.

The sophomore public relations major aspired to go to a bigger university to play soccer, but when the opportunity arose to play both soccer and football at Otterbein, Gaither considered the decision a no-brainer.

Gaither said she joined the football team because she has a love and passion for the game.

“When I first arrived at Otterbein, a lot of people were shocked or didn’t agree that a girl should be on the field, but I had a passion for the sport and I wasn’t going to let someone’s opinions get in the way,” Gaither said. “The team and the coaches supported me no matter what everyone else thought.”

Gaither said she is grateful for how accepting the team has been to her these past two years.

“They were my motivation and backbone last year when I got injured. If it wasn’t for their support during rehab, I don’t think I would have had the motivation to get where I am today. They are all like my big brothers, and I look up to them more than they will ever know.”

Having a female on the team might be a shock to some, but for the players, it just feels natural.

“She just feels like part of the team,” senior offensive lineman Jon Busby said. “We don’t even notice that she is a female. We just notice her as a strong player. She definitely brings consistency to our team.”

Gaither and sophomore Nick Ganus, the two strongest kickers on the team, try to challenge each other as well as help each other. Neither thinks they battle for the position.

“I think the competition between Nick and I help make us stronger kickers,” Gaither said. “We help each other out no matter what the circumstance may be.”

“We both kind of do our own thing,” Ganus said. “We have completely different kicking styles, but we know when the other is doing something wrong. When she is struggling with the ball height, I try to help her out and do a drill with her, where she tries to kick my hand to follow through.”

Gaither has mixed feelings about the attention she has been receiving.

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to do the sports I love, but I feel so silly getting attention for being a girl on the football team when I’m surrounded by players like Trey Fairchild,” Gaither said.

Fairchild, a senior wide receiver and third-year letterman, was named a second-team preseason All-American by D3football.com.

The football team will put its undefeated record on the line next Saturday when it travels to Berea, Ohio, to take on Baldwin Wallace University.

“Whenever I get the opportunity to kick, it’s all thanks to the team,” Gaither said. “They are the ones taking the ball down the field and putting in the sweat and blood. The offensive line and my holder, sophomore quarterback Brick Davis, are so impressive that I owe them so much for the work that they put in.”

 
Published September 25, 2012 in Sports

Ohio College Football Insider

By Mark Znidar

The Columbus Dispatch Tuesday September 25, 2012 5:17 AM

 

 

Gaither not kicking down barriers at Otterbein

Men should not feel threatened when Alana Gaither, with her long blond hair flowing from underneath her helmet, joins the huddle before attempting an extra point or field goal for Otterbein.

Gaither is not trying to crash the boys’ party. All she wants to do is kick the football through the uprights.

In the first place, the men did ask her to come out for the team at Akron Firestone High School and Otterbein.

“The varsity kicker quit the football team to play soccer when I was a freshman in high school, and the coach asked players from both soccer teams if they would give it a try,” Gaither said of Tim Flossie, who won two state championships with Akron Buchtel and has been a coach for 32 years. “He really needed help, so I gave it a try.”

Gaither converted 6 of 7 field-goal attempts and 45 of 47 extra-point attempts. Her longest field goal was 43 yards. She missed from 48 yards.

It appeared that Gaither would play only soccer at Otterbein until another college offered her the opportunity to play soccer and try out for the football team.

Cardinals women’s soccer coach Brandon Koons and former football coach Joe Loth matched the offer of playing both sports.

Gaither didn’t play football or soccer as a freshman last year after suffering a broken left ankle and a torn ligament in a soccer scrimmage.

This year, she kicked three of her four extra-point attempts in a 54-10 victory over Wilmington. Nick Ganus, a sophomore, is the starting place-kicker.

Gaither missed her first kick — “No excuses, I just shanked it,” she said — but her teammates were very supportive.

“My teammates were telling me they knew I could make it,” Gaither said. “They told me to stay strong.“I just want to focus on how great the coaches and players have been to me. They are the reason I’m out there. I want to help us win games. It was the same way in high school; I had great teammates. My teammates here know I’m not out there for attention.”

First-year Otterbein coach Tim Doup said Gaither gets no special treatment.

“It’s special what Alana is doing, but you would never know it watching her go about her business,” he said. “She is so team-oriented.”

Gaither said she doesn’t get nervous before a kick.

“I get more nervous when I’m speaking in public,” she said. “When you go out there, you do the same things you do in practice. Kicking is a lot like golfing. So much of it is technique.”

The hard part is balancing two sports. Gaither missed a soccer game on Saturday to play in a football game against John Carroll. The Cardinals won 21-7, but she did not attempt a kick.

“(Koons) and the girls have been so good about this,” Gaither said. “I’m coming late to soccer practice. They have been so encouraging. I thank them.”

Alana Gaither

Student. Public Relations. Football/Futbol. I'd prefer kicking it rather than kickin' it.