Despite a 5-4 record, Kat Stutesman and her teammates on the St. Charles North football team didn’t reach the IHSA Playoffs as they had hoped in 2013, but that didn’t stop them from being a part of history. Stutesman, a senior kicker, was named to the 2013 Upstate Eight All-Conference team, making her the first female player selected to the league’s All-Conference squad, while she is also believed to be the first female football player in state history to receive all-conference accolades. Stutesman practices Tae Kwon Do outside of school, is a member of the North Star girl’s soccer team and participates in a variety of activities at St. Charles North, including Student Government, National Honors Society, Marching Band and Armed Forces Club to name a few. The two-year varsity kicker, who set school records for extra points in a season (36) and a career (51), reflected on her football career and future…
Q: What drew you to playing football initially?
A: I had wanted to play football when I was younger, but was too involved in travel soccer. I never played organized football before my high school experience. I was encouraged by teachers and the former head coach to try out. Coach Gould was my driver education instructor and he encouraged to play me when one of the kickers got injured during my sophomore year. Other coaches who knew my kicking abilities encouraged me and supported my efforts.
Q: What was your experience like playing high school football?
A: G-R-E-A-T. Yes, it took a while for the guys to warm up to having a girl on the team, but once I proved myself there were no issues. I took on the same things they did. I have trained for years with guys with soccer and Tae Kwon Do; I knew I had to prove myself with deeds, not words. I took the hits and got up every time.
As much as I still feel soccer is my sport, football was in many ways the best experience of sports in my life. I really hate the feeling that now that the season is over. The first time taking the field in front of 5,000 people, and hearing cheers for you, it was amazing and life-changing. Having groups of younger girls who are playing football coming to games and cheering for me with their uniforms on was so inspiring. They thought they were cheering for me, but I was cheering for them. When I broke the records, it was my parents who first really made a big deal out of it, and then when the student body got the news, it was such a great feeling. But, I don’t want to be known as the girl who did this; I want to be known as a good kicker that just happens to be a girl.
Q: Was there anything from football that you took away that helped your soccer game?
A: I play goalie for soccer, so all the weight training has allowed me to add strength to my upper body and legs. I admit, I never felt football players were as good of athletes as soccer players, but playing football has totally changed my viewpoint. It has been a two-way street; soccer has given me kicking abilities, Tae Kwon Do has added kicking strength and football has given me strength and accuracy. I can control the ball so much better now with two years of football. I actually have scored as a goalie because of the ability to kick into the final third. Getting the ball from the 18-yard box to the other 18-yard box has been a great help.
What are your plans for the future?
A: I have currently have applied to the United States Air Force Academy, United States Naval Academy and United States Coast Guard Academy.
My focus is to major in Civil Engineering with a focus on environmental engineering. I was awarded a scholarship for a camp program with the Society of American Military Engineers (Illini Post) last summer to attend an engineering camp at the Air Force Academy, which I really enjoyed. If I am accepted at the Academies I want to fly jets.
My family has a history of public service and commitment to protect our country. My intention is to follow in those footsteps.