Butler puts the finishing touches on another season as SL's kicker
While other girls are lacing up their running shoes or putting on knee pads, Storm Lake High School senior Kyrie Butler is donning her cleats and shoulder pads.
Standing only about 5-foot-5, she is not what one would expect for the only female on the Tornado football team. However, Butler has just wrapped up her second year as the team's kicker and is as much a part of the team as Chom Thammavongsa or Alex Severson.
"All the guys were really good about (me joining the team)," said Butler. "They don't like that I have more fans than they do, but they got used to it after a while."
At pep rallies, Butler is the team's celebrity, surrounded by kids who want to get her autograph. At school, she is just another girl; the only problem she has had since joining the team is finding a place to change for away games and getting pumped up in the lonely locker room.
Butler, the girls soccer team's MVP for three years running, started kicking for the Tornadoes last year after JV head coach Jason Stoltzfus asked her to try it out. When last year's kicker graduated, Butler stepped in for the varsity squad.
"We have had others who tried kicking for us, but she does a very good job," Storm Lake coach Bill McCabe said.
Butler has had the support of the team and coaches, her family, and the community from the beginning. Ray Wiederholt, Butler's step-dad and soccer coach, had some initial doubts but encouraged her to try kicking.
"I was worried about acceptance on the team, but that hasn't been a problem. They realize she has a job to do and if she's able to do it they acknowledge her as being part of the team," Wiederholt said.
Butler has proven herself time and again by going to every practice ready to work. Butler warms up with the team, then spends the remainder of practice working on her kicking.
"She is very dedicated," McCabe said. "She comes to practices and puts in the time, and you can tell by her performance."
Butler was 7-for-12 on extra-point kicks and 2-for-4 in field goals with a long of 28 yards prior to last night's season finale against Bishop Heelan.
Her extensive experience with soccer has been a key to her success. She has been playing soccer since she was five, when she got hooked on her step-dad's contagious love for the sport. The soccer team has been supportive of her decision to play football, and the time she spends in the weight room will be an asset to the team this spring.
"(Playing football) is something she's always wanted to do. When she came and told me the coach wanted her to try it, I was OK with it since she wasn't going to be getting hit every play," Wiederholt said.
Butler fits in so well with the team that many of Storm Lake's opponents do not even know she is a girl.
"She's just like anyone else," McCabe said.