Arrive before a Brooks football game early enough, and Scout McIntyre can be seen warming up with the Lions’ other place kickers.
Keep watching, and McIntyre will head to the dressing room, reemerge before the rest of the football players and join the other cheerleaders on the sideline for pre-game.
Before kickoff, she’ll return to the field house, suit up in shoulder pads and a helmet and head back to the sideline to wait for her chance to attempt a kick.
Fall Friday nights are busy for the only girl on Brooks’ football team.
“It keeps me busy and it was a little intimidating at first, but everybody has been really supportive,” McIntyre said. “It’s been fun.”
A soccer player since the age of 4, McIntyre started kicking a football her freshman year at Waterloo, where she started cheerleading as an eighth-grader, mosty playing around with her brother and his football teammates.
“My old school, Waterloo, they were going to need a kicker this year, so was going to do it, but my family moved out here (to Killen),” said McIntyre, a senior, who transferred into Brooks in January. “One of my friends, Garrett McGee, he kind of taught me how to kick. He was like, ‘You should try it. You’re really good.’ So I tried out.”
McGee is Brooks’ starting kicker. He and the other kickers often would still be on the field Thursdays after walk-through at the same time as the cheerleaders. That led to McIntyre showing off her skills.
“Some of the guys came over to me and said, ‘Coach, you need to get over here and see Scout kick,’” coach Jerry Hill said. “And, man, she could really kick. The next week, she came to me and asked about being on the team. I said sure, and she hasn’t missed a day.”
McIntyre first came out for the team Week 3, made the roster by Week 5, got her first game experience in a Week 6 win against Haleyville and made her first extra point, the second of two attempts, in last Friday’s Week 7 win at East Lawrence.
“It was nerve-racking,” McIntyre said. “The first one, I hit it off my toe and it was kind of low but everybody said I made it over (the crossbar). I was just praying to give me one more chance and I’d make it. When it went through, it was pretty awesome.
“It’s a lot different than when you’re standing on a cheer stand doing cheers. When I’m out there, I just kind of block everything out, I can’t hear anything else.”
The nerves kicked in before she ever suited up. She wondered how her teammates and her parents would like her playing football.
“Garrett kind of told me I’ll be OK, that we’re all a team,” McIntyre said. “And (assistant) coach (Russ) Robbins told me that it might feel kind of weird at first, but it won’t even be a thing.
“My mom was kind of skeptical about it because she still wanted me to cheer. I said I could still cheer and play football, and she was like, ‘I don’t want you to get hit.’”
Handling the physicality of the game concerned Hill, too, but he’s had a girl kick for his football team before. Francis Speckar spent time at the position for two seasons when Hill was the coach at Coffee.
“Kickers don’t get hit much, but when they do, it’s bad,” said Hill, who estimated he’d feel comfortable with McIntyre kicking from 37 yards and closer. “If it’s a bad snap, there’s a scramble for the ball, she’s got to be ready for some contact, protect herself. She hadn’t dealt with that before, but she doesn’t mind at all.
“We have a scramble drill we work on. We holler ‘fire’ and the kicker is supposed to do certain things. We work on those things to put her in that situation if it does happen.”
Of course, there are logistical concerns that also come into play on a coed football team.
“You have to make some arrangements,” Hill said. “You have to have separate but equal facilities. We’re lucky with our facilities here that we can do that.
“The biggest thing was how your team full of guys were going to receive her. Kids today can be brutal. I’m real proud with how receptive the team has been. I haven’t heard the first thing. That’s a credit to the kind of players we have.”
McIntyre has felt the support, too, from both sets of teammates, making an uncommon occurrence a comfortable one for her.
“All the cheerleaders, they’re eally supportive of me,” McIntyre said. “At every game or pep rally, they’re always doing some kind of special cheer for me. And all the guys on the team have been great. They treat me like any other player. It’s been a great experience.”
Bryan App can be reached at 256-740-5730 or email@example.com.