Part of the team: Jacques proves with Marauders | that football is also for girls News, Sports, Jobs

OBSERVER Photos by Braden Carmen Dunkirk kicker Siera Jacques scores an extra point during a game against Olean at Dunkirk High School earlier this season.

One of Dunkirk High School’s top athletes has proved otherwise so far this year.

Siera Jacques, a senior multisport athlete at Dunkirk, served as the pitch kicker for the Dunkirk Marauders football team this season.

“In 23 years as a high school football coach, I have never coached a player.” said Dunkirk coach Mark Benton. “I was a bit apprehensive at first and wondered how this would work, but she didn’t hurt us.

She asserted herself. … She’s a really good athlete.”

Siera Jacques plays football for Dunkirk in her first year. She kicks the team’s extra points and field goals.

Jacques was already a multi-athlete with varsity experience in indoor and outdoor athletics, basketball and soccer. But for her senior year, she decided to put football on the list.

“It was just something to have with you. You played soccer in your senior year,” Jacques said about their motivation to play. “You could tell everyone you were on the football team.”

Jacques is still a member of the soccer team and regularly trains with them. She then joins the soccer team when she can—usually twice a week—to practice kicking field goals and extra points. She is not responsible for kickoffs or punts.

According to athletic director Al Gens, each school district is free to decide whether or not to allow athletes to compete in multiple sports within the same season. To do this, athletes in Dunkirk must declare their main sport, which determines where the athlete reports in the event of a scheduling conflict. For Jacques, soccer is her main sport, which is why she trains with the soccer team whenever the coaches of both programs come at an agreed time.

After scoring her first extra point in the season opener at Lake Shore, Jacques recalls thinking: “I just did that” as she left the field. “You just have all the feelings at once.” She said. “And all the guys were happy for me too, so you feel good.”

Jacques said she was recruited to the team because she demonstrated an ability to score field goals at Karl Höppner Feld before the start of the season.

“Mental preparation with a full grandstand” is what Jacques picked as the biggest adjustment during the season. “I’m on a team with all the guys where they could kick, but I’m here,” She said.

Jacques appreciates the strong relationships she has developed with teammates and the coaching staff as a great help throughout the process. Instead of feeling uncomfortable being the only girl on the team, Jacques enjoyed it.

“It’s pretty nice, to be honest.” said Jacques. “Other girls you see cheerleading — and I’m not over there, I’m playing soccer.”

While she’s currently the only female player on the college team, with Jacques’ success this season, female kickers could become a trend for Dunkirk. Currently, Jacques’ teammate, Lauryn McCracken, is a kicker on the junior varsity football team. Regardless of whether the trend continues or not, it’s clear that the decision to bring Jacques to the team this season was the right decision.

“She’s well connected. I was happy with that.” said Benton. “I’m not disappointed at all.”

Tonight, the Marauders travel to Albion in hopes of their first victory.

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