WOODBURY – Livia Walker used to joke with Cannon County football coach T.J. Daniel that she would be a kicker for his football team.
This fall, the third-year coach called Walker out.
“This year he was down a kicker,” said Walker, who is also a standout soccer and softball player. “He came up to my mom, our soccer coach, and asked who her best kicker was.
“She said I might be up for it.”
Walker quickly won the position. She booted a 45-yard field goal without football pads and has connected from 32 yards in full pads and a helmet.
“At first, some of the guys thought it was a joke,” Daniel said. “Then when she walked over and kicked that first time they were like, ‘Coach isn’t lying. She can kick.’
“They then said they were going to protect her. She’s boosted the morale of the team. She could be the glue that brings everything together for us.”
Walker is one of 14 girls playing high school football in the state, according to an eligibility report by the TSSAA.
Walker will be on the field only during field goals and point-after attempts for the Lions, who compete in Region 4-3A and are coming off a 1-9 season in 2014. She will not be in on kickoffs.
Cannon County opens this season at 7 p.m. Friday at Community in Unionville.
Walker has played with the Murfreesboro Strikers travel soccer program in the past and is being recruited to play in college.
Soccer remains her first priority. But she practices with the football team on Thursdays with special teams and the walkthrough.
She plans on making sure she isn’t injured on the football field. If there is a bad snap, she has a plan.
“We yell ‘fire,’ and I get down on the ground, or I might turn and run the other way,” she said. “If something happens, I’m just going to let them go.
“I have a soccer career to worry about,” she added with a laugh.
And she already has made sure she has her own place to dress at home games.
For Cannon County’s home games, she will dress in the trainer’s office. The trainer also is a female. Walker will have to find a place at away games.
She will not be in the locker room with her team, either. That is a guideline set up by her family.
“I don’t believe that is a place for a girl,” her mother, Dorinda, said.
Added Livia: “My dad told me, ‘You better not step foot in the locker room.’ I told him not to worry. I don’t want to go into the locker room.”
Reach Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Kreager.