By Carin R. Kirkegaard; photo courtesy of Dave Tweed
Josie Manning, sophomore, junior varsity starting kicker and varsity backup for the Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) Jaguars has the fans out of their seats cheering. Although Manning is the first female kicker for the Jaguars it is her production on the field that is getting her noticed. Only three games into the football season, Manning has two tackles and a forced fumble to her name.
It was a pulled hamstring in soccer that prompted Manning to look at football as an alternative to her main sport. In soccer, Manning said, “I had a big boot and could kick the ball really far.” When the football team was looking for kickers she thought it made sense to give the sport a try. In the spring of her freshman year, Manning tried to catch Jaguar Head Coach Brian Tinker multiple times to ask him about trying out for the kicker position, but she always just missed him. Manning thinks her tenacity in tracking the coach down was a way to show her perseverance and dedication to becoming a kicker. When she finally made it to the try-out field and the coaching staff had her kick some extra-point kicks, she didn’t miss one.
Now as the starting kicker for the junior varsity football team, Manning is using her “big boot” for the Jaguar kick off. Standing at the end of the field after kicking the football, Manning said it can be a little scary when these players, all bigger than her, are running full speed directly at her and if needed, she may have to stop them. From the stands a fan would never know. In the game against Douglas County, Manning stood her ground watching the kick returner getting by the RCHS special team defenders. Manning didn’t even flinch. She leaned into the runner, tackling him and forcing a fumble for her team.
“When it comes to sports, I don’t let too much stand in my way. I’m always trying to better myself on any playing field no matter what,” said Manning.
In a family with a lot of boys, Beth Fling, Manning’s mom said her daughter is the only one who is playing football. Like most parents whose children play the sport, Fling admits that she was a little worried about the hits and tackles. In the end though, Fling is proud of what Manning is doing. “It’s amazing that she has the guts to do it,” Fling said.
Off the field Manning is a member of the RCHS student council. She loves to spend her free time sketching and was recruited by the sophomore team to play on the powder puff football team during homecoming week.