SAN JOSE – It was not done in the name of womanhood. It was not about making history. Or breaking down gender barriers. Or fulfilling a dream. It was about kicking an extra point. Wasn’t that what Ashley Martin was supposed to do? See ball, kick ball. More like: See ball, kick ball, enter record book.
On Aug. 29, Martin became the first woman to play (and score) in a Division I game when she kicked three extra points in Jacksonville (Ala.) State’s 72-10 victory over Cumberland in a Division I-AA game.
Martin’s first kick prompted a standing ovation, and she thrust a fist into the air as she jogged to the sideline. After the game, teammates chanted “Ashley! Ashley!” and she received the game ball.
She slept for two hours, appeared on “Good Morning, America,” then hopped a plane to Southwest Missouri State, where she joined Jacksonville State’s women’s soccer team.
Although Martin, a sophomore, is featured on a team T-shirt with the logo “Battle of the Sexes,” she did not consider herself a groundbreaker.
“That’s not what it’s about at all,” she told reporters before the game. “That would be like I’m making a statement, and that’s not the case. I’ve got a job to do, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
Martin joined the Gamecocks out of necessity: They had just one kicker on the roster, Steven Lee, and he was a transfer.
But an assistant coach knew Martin had kicked for East Coweta High in Sharpsburg, Ga. (She was selected homecoming queen and reportedly accepted the crown in her football uniform.) So the Gamecocks invited her to training camp. She made 20 of 22 point-after attempts against a live rush.
The NCAA doesn’t keep such records, but according to the Associated Press, the only other woman to score in a college game is Liz Heaston, who kicked two extra points in 1997 for then-NAIA Willamette University in Salem, Ore.
The first woman to suit up for a college game was Louisville’s Kathy Klop, in 1995, but she never played.