AVON, Ind. - As a soccer player since the age of three, kicking comes natural to Sam Miller.
"I knew a lot of kickers played soccer and then I thought it would be fun to try,” the Avon sophomore admits. "It was an adjustment at first."
When Sam made the adjustment in middle school, she got noticed in a snap.
"I kicked it way into the parking lot and it hit a few cars and I think that's when the guys realized, ‘Wow she can really kick,’” Sam said.
However, getting on the field in high school came with some obstacles.
"There's no girls’ locker room because it's a football stadium,” Sam said with a laugh. “It was awkward at first figuring out where I'd go and store all my pads but I now keep it in the trainer's room."
Sam also overcame some initial reservations from the rest of the roster.
"I came in as a freshman so I had been playing with people my age. But a lot of the upperclassmen, especially the seniors last year, they really didn't know what to expect,” Sam admitted.
She not only secured a spot on the varsity roster, but also the respect of her teammates. And that was evident as Sam knocked down two extra points, the first for a female in Avon varsity football history, helping Avon to a sectional championship appearance.
"When she got an opportunity to kick for us in the game, the sidelines went crazy when she went in and then of course when she made it we all celebrated,” Avon head coach Mark Bless said. "She had two opportunities and she drilled them both."
"All of a sudden everyone is like patting my back, patting my helmet,” Sam said of the reaction following those extra points. “It was just amazing. It's fun to be a part of, not as a girl...but as just one of the guys."
While Sam prides herself on being just one of the guys, she hopes her history making feat will encourage other girls to follow in her footsteps.
"You hope that other people will follow but really my job isn't possible without the guys so it's credit to the guys scoring,” Sam said with a smile. “But yeah it's cool to be the first."
The IHSAA starting tracking participation by gender in varsity football just last year.
In the 2017 season, the association says there were 44 females playing across the state of Indiana.