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UWA kicker may be first woman to boot NCAA field goal

By Staff
NCAA FIRST? When Tonya Butler hit a field goal against Stillman College on Saturday it may have been the first time a woman has kicked a three-pointer in NCAA history. Photo by Kyle Carter/The Meridian Star
By Jimmy Boone / EMG sports writer
Sept. 15, 2003
LIVINGSTON, Ala. Tonya Butler just wants to be a football kicker.
The Associated Press and ESPN both have reported that they believe Butler, who plays for the University of West Alabama, is the first woman ever to score a field goal in NCAA history.
The NCAA could not confirm the report because they do not keep records based on sex.
Butler, originally from Fayetteville, Ga., played soccer and then started to play football in high school at Riverdale High School near Atlanta.
"I started kicking in high school, and then kicked at Middle Georgia College," Butler said. "I competed in a competition in the Georgia Dome, and coach Pippin saw me and recruited me to play at Middle Georgia."
After playing for two years at Middle Georgia, she finished her college work at Georgia Southern.
When shed decided to begin her graduate work, she came to West Alabama where her former college coach was now coaching.
When West Alabama needed a kicker, Pippin was glad to have Butler come out to play.
Pippin has found success from Butler already as she has completed seven of seven extra point attempts, and now what is apparently the first ever field goal by a woman.
Pippin, who coached Butler at Middle Georgia College, a two-year school, said he did not consider her field goal in UWA's win over Stillman on Saturday to be an earth-shaking event.
"When you see Tonya off the field, she is a woman," Pippin said. "When she is on the football field, she is a football player."
Butler said all she wants to do is be a part of the team.
"I don't want to be considered a novelty," Butler said. "I did not pay any attention to whether people were watching me because I am a woman, I just wanted to make the kick."
Butler said she was not nervous when she walked onto her new home field for the first time.
"When I walked onto the field the first time, it felt good," Butler said. "I knew that I had a job to do."
As the game wore on, and Butler returned to the field to kick extra points, many in the crowd began to call her by name.
"It felt pretty good to hear them supporting me," Butler said. "This is a new school and a new state for me, so it felt good to know they had accepted me."