October 25, 2011
It all started as a joke.
Megan Cox, a star girls soccer player at Springfield (Va.) Lee High, was spending time lifting weights at the school gym over the summer as part of her training routine for her club team, the VSA Heat. After spending a couple of lifting sessions surrounded by members of the Lee football team, the football players began to recognize her.
According to the Washington Post, it didn't take long for one of them to challenge her to try kicking a football. After a little prodding, Cox relented. That's when everything changed. After missing her first few kicks while getting a feel for kicking a football, Cox lined up and drilled a 40-yarder.
Suddenly, a joke became a potential new sport, and the players who had bothered her into heading outside with a football in the first place were begging her to show up at practice.
She did -- the girls soccer season is played in the spring in Virginia, so the junior could easily fit football into her fall schedule -- and within days, Cox was anointed as the team's starting kicker.
A big part of the soccer star's rapid adaptation to football was paved by one of her noted skills on the soccer pitch. Cox served as Lee's primary set piece taker as a sophomore, and she said that she attempts all her field goals with the same form.
"I take a lot of the free kicks for my soccer team, and I kick the football very similar to how I kick the soccer ball," Cox told the Post. "There's really not much of a difference between the two kicks."
For Cox, the adaptation to a new sport has been swift and smooth. The soccer star insisted that the only time she doesn't feel like part of the team is when she's forced to silently get dressed on her own in the girls locker room before and after games, and she already says that the team is "like family and I'd do anything for them."
In fact, it wasn't until last Friday that the full ramifications of playing football fully sunk in for Cox during a game against South County (Va.) High, when the junior ran for the ball after a blocked field goal … and was immediately drilled by an opponent.
"It's an instinct of mine," she said. "In soccer, if you lose the ball you gotta go back and get it." Cox said she was glad the South County player didn't let up just because she was a girl. "It was a clean hit. I saw him coming. I looked into his eyes and I was like: "Uh, oh. Here we go.'"
Of course, that's not to say that Cox couldn't dish out a hit herself if she wanted to.
"I don't want to make them look bad," Cox told the Post. "There's definitely guys I could punish. I didn't say that, but I can."
No matter how tough they may or may not be, her teammates definitely know that Cox is fully invested in their success as a group, as she shows every game on the sidelines.
"She yells on the sidelines," Lee linebacker Robert Martinez told the Post. "It doesn't get awkward. I find it normal. I think more girls should come out for the team."
If Cox has sold her male teammates on that, she must be doing something pretty right.
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