In a matchup against Alabama’s Lanier High School in August, Kendyle Alston became Westlake’s first female player to score in a varsity football game. Last month, the senior put an exclamation point on her career when she again kicked for an extra point helping her team to defeat Wheeler.
She says wasn’t trying to make history, but she’s done just that.
“I just wanted to play football and to be a part of the team,” Alston said. “It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and one that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Alston credits Westlake’s football coach Kareem Reid for giving her a chance to play the sport.
“My parents and I are grateful to Coach Reid for allowing me this opportunity,” she said. “He and my teammates have welcomed me on the team and I appreciate that.”
Alston learned to kick and punt on the soccer field. She joined the Westlake junior varsity squad after seeing her former club soccer teammate become the kicker for the Mays High School varsity football team. She trained diligently alongside the varsity kickers last season.
While Alston has earned the distinction of being the female player at Westlake to score in a varsity football game, young women have played on the team dating back to the early 2000s. Alexis Austin, class of 2004, played wide receiver and lettered in the sport. LaVetta Banks, class of 2002, played left guard. Banks, like Alston, got her start on the soccer field and credits her coach for encouraging her to make the transition.
“Coach Allen actually asked me to join the team after he observed me during soccer practice,” said Banks. “So I took the challenge. Little did he know that I didn’t have any desire to be his kicker. I wanted action on the line.”
“At that time, spring training was the hardest thing I had done. It was difficult and I got a lot of crap from the guys, but soon enough they gave me the respect I deserved because I took it,” she continued.
Both Alston and Banks have offered advice for the young women who will continue in their footsteps.
“If you believe in something, you should make it happen,” said Alston. “You should be able to do anything.”
“Stick to what you love and follow your heart,” said Banks. “Never limit yourself and and always have fun.”
Photo Credit: Fulton County Schools