From a bet to the history books: A kick for my team and a 1st for Canadian women

From a bet to the history books: A kick for my team and a 1st for Canadian women


I am the 1st Canadian woman to play and score in a North American university football game

By Kristie Elliott for CBC Sports
December 19, 2021
 

Your life can change in a moment.

I’m going to tell you about how mine did. Since playing and scoring in my first university football game, my confidence has skyrocketed. Even though I still get nervous, each game has become less mentally challenging for me. I was shocked to receive a Great Northwest Atlantic Conference honourable mention at the end of my season. Next year, I'm shooting for GNAC All-Star.

Many people continue to reach out to me, especially younger females on social media. They say they want to be like me when they are older. Some girls are asking me for kicking advice.

So, about that moment…

Kristie Elliott takes her practice kicks in Burnaby B.C., in  September of 2021. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press) Kristie Elliott takes her practice kicks in Burnaby B.C., in September of 2021. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
 

“Gid, did I make it?” I asked my teammate, Gideone Kremler.

“Yeah, you did!” he said, with a huge smile on his face.

That’s when it sunk in that I successfully made the conversion after my Simon Fraser University football team scored its first touchdown in a Sept. 11, 2021, game at Linfield University in McMinnville, Oregon.

It was the first time I played in a university football game, and the successful kick meant I had scored my first point for the team.

I asked Gideon because I’m pretty sure I had my eyes closed after kicking the ball. It’s hard to be sure of everything that was going on before and during the kick. My sole aim was to get good contact on the ball, and kick it through the uprights. Everything else? I tried to zone it out.

As I jogged onto the field after our touchdown, all I could focus on was the ball, and Gideon to get the timing of my kick right.

 

It was like a photograph where the subject is sharp, but the background and surroundings are blurry. I could hear screaming from the fans, the opposing players, and from the people on our sideline, but all that noise seemed muffled. Amazingly, after the kick went through, all that changed and I was back in reality again. It’s hard to describe now simply because at that moment, I wasn’t thinking about how I was feeling, all I wanted to do was help my team.

It never gets easy, but Elliott's confidence is building with each game. (Garrett James/Simon Fraser University Athletics) It never gets easy, but Elliott's confidence is building with each game. (Garrett James/Simon Fraser University Athletics)
 

When reality set back in, it was loud! Our linemen - who had been blocking on the play - swarmed me and Gideone in celebration. As we all jogged off the field towards the sideline, I started crying. I always cry. But these were happy tears. It felt like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders. My helmet is huge so you can’t really see my eyes, and so no one could see I was in tears.

I got to the sideline, and the reaction was just so much screaming and excitement, everyone was so happy for me. It just made me cry more. It felt so wonderful to have supportive coaches and brothers.

Honestly, it was one of the coolest experiences in my life. I felt so much love and support from everyone around. I even had opposition parents from Linfield cheering for me. You definitely don’t see that every day.

Kristie Elliott, pictured in Burnaby, B.C., in September of 2021. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press) Kristie Elliott, pictured in Burnaby, B.C., in September of 2021. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
 

My confidence skyrocketed after that kick, because even though I knew I could do it all along, now I had actually done it. Earlier in the game, I was asked to kick a field goal, and missed. So after two attempts, I knew I didn’t have worry about anything other than kicking the ball.

My convert was near the end of the second quarter, so it wasn’t long before we had to go into the locker room for halftime. It was time to regroup, talk to my coach, zone in, and focus on what may happen next. My main priority was the game and getting more points on the board for the team.

It wasn’t until after the game that I learned that I was now the first Canadian woman to play in, and score in, a North American university football game.

I spoke to my number one supporters, my parents, and they were so excited. I knew a woman playing in a university football game was rare, but I hadn’t paid that much attention to the details before the game.

Kristie Elliott has earned solid support from her SFU teammates.  (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press) Kristie Elliott has earned solid support from her SFU teammates. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
 

So the happy tears and the emotion after that first made kick weren’t really about me “making history.” It was much more about seeing my hard work pay off, playing in my first game, doing what I needed to do to help my team, and achieving a goal after pursuing it for two years.

It all began in 2019, when I was hurdling for SFU’s track and field program. For fun, I made a bet with a football player that I could kick a 40-yard field goal. I made it, and sent him the video. He and other players on the team urged me to try out, and I eventually contacted then head coach Thomas Ford.

I continually worked with coaches to get better, and eventually walked on to the team later that year. That meant attending the six-day-a-week training camp, and practices all season. I didn’t play that season but my love for the sport grew.

Then COVID-19 hit, and our 2020 season was wiped out. Throughout the pandemic, I trained, and practised, and worked with a holder. The extra year of repetition and working on timing helped me prepare for 2021.

I love being on the same team as the amazing people who represent SFU and Canada, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for us.

Top, large Image by Naji Saker/Linfield University Athletics

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