By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Friday’s battle of unbeatens between the Southeast Division’s top-ranked Rowland (5-0) and No. 2 Walnut (5-0) in the San Antonio League opener could go down to the wire. If it does, a girls soccer player might decide it. Walnut junior Nikki McKee, a center back and midfielder on the girls soccer team, also is the Mustangs’ placekicker on extra points and – guess what – is 19 for 19. “I’m not surprised at all,” Mustangs coach Mike O’Shields said. “She’s accurate in practice, too.”
This all came about when O’Shields wandered by a girls soccer practice last spring.
“We were doing some clinics on the (football) field when coach (O’Shields) asked if we had any kickers, and I said `Of course,’ but I didn’t think anything would come of it,” Mustangs girls soccer coach Lorraine Hansen said.
O’Shields, wondering if he really had something, brought a kicking tee out for McKee, and she promptly knocked eight of 10 tries through the uprights.
“She kicked a 20-yarder, a couple of 30-yarders then knocked one in from the 40,” O’Shields said. “That’s when I said, `You want to play football?’ After that I called her parents and promised we would try not to get her hurt and she’s been a great addition since. She’s a real fine athlete.”
In Friday’s 14-7 win over Sonora, McKee was knocked to the ground for the first time following a PAT, but she bounced back up and her teammates defended her like a little sister.
toughness isn’t a surprise. She also has a black belt in Taekwondo.
“She looked at me and said she was fine,” O’Shields said. “She goes through every drill the boys go through. I made sure she did all the tackling drills because you never know when you will be in a situation to take a hit or make a tackle.
“She’s loving it, too. She asked if she could catch a pass if there’s a blowout, but I think I would need written permission from her parents before that could happen.”
Senior Jose Mendoza has a stronger leg and kicks field goals for the Mustangs, but that spot could belong to McKee next year.
“Absolutely, I don’t see why not,” O’Shields said. “She’s a stud. She’s only going to get better.”