After school dances, most girls like to preserve their blowouts and perfectly applied makeup for as long as possible. But minutes after Mary Kate Smith is crowned homecoming queen of South Jones High School in Mississippi on Sept. 26, she’ll wash her face, throw her hair into a braid, and suit up to play in the football game.
The 17-year-old senior recently made the squad as the football team’s kicker, which makes her something of a rarity. As of 2012, fewer than 2,000 girls played football nationwide. For the last two years, peers had encouraged her to try out — she has an amazing foot, able to nail 35- to 40-yard field goals. Her natural kicking talent comes from years of playing soccer, and she has even committed to play for University of Southern Mississippi next year.
So how does she balance her girly side with the very masculine sport? Finding the fashionable side of the uniform, of course! “I’ve figured out how to adjust my pants and belt so it makes my legs look longer (that’s always a plus), and I love the dark blue color of my jersey because it brings out my eyes,” she tells Yahoo Style. As for her long, blonde hair, she avoids the dreaded helmet hair by rocking a simple three-step braid — it keeps her hair out of her face on the field but adds a little flair as well.
Smith in her Homecoming dress. Photo Courtesy Mary Kate Smith
When the teenager isn’t on either the football or soccer fields, she loves shopping. “Shoes have to be my favorite thing to shop for. Heels, wedges, flats, sandals, tennis shoes, and cleats all consume my closet!” And while she won’t get to wear her gown the entire night of homecoming, she had a ton of fun searching for her dress. The white, floor-length gown is covered in sparkles, and she bought glittery heels to match. “I was actually telling the guys on my team about my dress at water break at practice and they replied, ‘Kate you are such a girly girl!’”
While her teammates poke fun, it’s all in jest. In fact, her coach, Corey Reynolds, told the Today show that “when she’s out there, she’s been like one of the guys. … It’s not like, ‘Ooh, we have a girl.’”
Sometimes, opposing teams don’t even know Smith’s gender until they shake hands at the end of the game. But look close, and her accessories give away her femininity. “My teammates always mess with me about being so girly because a lot of times I’ll wear my rings and earring and necklaces to practice,” she says. “I just tell them I’m practicing with style!”