Time was ticking away during the third quarter of a blowout of a football game at George Finnie Stadium in Berea Sept. 4.
The Avon Lake Shoremen, annually one of the top teams in the Southwestern Conference, were ahead comfortably on the host Berea-Midpark Titans by six touchdowns, and were threatening to score again. Some junior varsity players had started to sub into the game to get valuable varsity minutes, and special teams coordinator Vince Marsala gave head coach Matt Kostelnik the heads-up that a change at kicker was coming.
Julia Hurd, a junior playing organized football for the first time, would be kicking the extra point should the team reach the end zone. Sure enough, senior running back Gage Duesler scored to put the Shoremen ahead 62-14, and it was Hurd’s turn.
“Coach said hey, Julia’s going in, and I was just like okay, cool,” Kostelnik said. “I didn’t even think twice about it since she’d been doing a great job at practice.”
A nervous Hurd got to her spot on the field and lined up to kick the extra point. The snap came and she hesitated for a split second before booting the ball through the uprights at the stadium shared by the Titans and Baldwin-Wallace University, eliciting loud cheers from her teammates on the field and on the sideline.
That night, Hurd became the first female in school history to score a point in a football game.
“I made it, and everyone went crazy,” Hurd said. “And I was just relieved and super happy. Everyone was happy for me. And they were in shock that I made it because they were college uprights. Everyone was super nice and really supportive and it made me really happy.”
Her record-setting point-after was also the first of her young football career, which started a year ago when she began kicking footballs just to try it out. In the spring, she elected to go out for the Shoremen team, attending every possible workout in person and online.
“She’s definitely accountable and a great kid,” Kostelnik said. “She rolled out there (on that first kick) and the snap came in and she paused for a second, got a little nervous, but she got through it and it was awesome. She buried it.”
Due to her team’s ability to build big leads, she got to convert another extra point chance the following week in a 42-0 romp over Midview. Last Friday in a 45-0 win at North Olmsted, she made another, keeping her a perfect 3-for-3 for the season at the varsity level as the backup to starter Owen Wiley. As the junior varisty team’s primary kicker, she’s converted a 40-yard field goal, the longest she’s been able to make in practice or a game.
Also a midfielder on the Shoregals JV soccer team, Hurd has spent her fall season juggling daily practice and game schedules, creating time each afternoon for both sports. A soccer player since age three, she always had football in the back of her mind as something she wanted to try.
“I’ve always wanted to play football, but I was super nervous,” Hurd said. “I didn’t know what to expect and what the guys would think of me going out there...They’re all super supportive and nice. That’s the thing that shocked me the most, is how nice they actually are. They made me feel really welcome.”
After school each day, she puts on her football uniform and heads out to the stadium to stretch with the team. After that, she heads over to the practice field to get kicks up. She estimated that she attempts up to 12 field goals per day. Once she’s finished, she heads straight to soccer practice.
It’s a busy schedule, but Hurd has made the most of her time, splitting uprights and etching her name in the school record book.
“I think that (the record) is super cool, and it’s just exciting because it’s something that’s never happened before,” she said. “I just wanted to try something new and go for it, and I’m happy to do that. I’m in the record book forever, and that’s cool...For other girls, if they want to try out for football they should, because if I can do it, then they can do it, too.”
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