Two Knox Central Lady Panther soccer players made history on Friday night as the first female football players in Knox Central history to score points for the team. Senior Ivy Partin, and junior, Taylor Payne, each connected on PATs (points after touchdown) in the Panthers' win over the Harlan County Black Bears on Friday night.
Both Partin and Payne play soccer for Knox Central, and Partin is also a member of the wrestling team. Knox Central Lady Panthers soccer coach Corey Bauer, and Knox Central wrestling coach Hunter Luttrell reacted to Partin and Payne making history on Friday night.
"I’m extremely proud of them both," said Bauer. "I knew they’d do an amazing job, and they just set the bar even higher for themselves and everyone around them. I’m glad they are representing soccer, and female athletes. I’m a very proud coach."
"Ivy has been the foundation of our wrestling team," said Luttrell. "She has always been an amazing athlete, and I feel like wrestling has made her fearless; she's not afraid of anything. She wrestles against boys, so she isn't afraid to get out there with them and do whatever she needs to do. I am super proud of her. She's made history more than once. She's a special person. She's a role model and an inspiration to all young women. You don't get athletes like her often; she's special."
There was never a doubt in either Partin or Payne's minds that they were capable of doing what needed to be done on the football field. With the encouragement and support of their coaches and teammates, they were both elated to make history.
"There was never a doubt in my mind that I could physically do it, because I kick over the soccer goal all the time, and it's not much higher," said Partin. "I knew I had it in me, and it's awesome to have it written down in the history books."
"I thought it was very fun," said Payne. "What made it even cooler was doing it with Ivy. We kind of actually needed one another to get all of that gear on," she said with a laugh.
With neither ever having to wear more than shin-guards in soccer, they both highlighted how different it felt to them to wear football pads and a helmet.
"I was nervous all week," said Partin. "I was nervous all the way up until Friday, then I wasn't really nervous anymore. I was just really worried about looking like a dude, because I'm not used to that."
"It was different," said Payne. "I'm not used to wearing so much gear, but it felt pretty awesome to put it all on. I was excited the first time we got to put it all on. We actually only got to wear the full gear one time before we kicked in-game. We didn't even get to kick with the holder before the game."
Partin kicked first, connecting on a PAT in the first half. After seeing a girl score against them, the Harlan County squad did everything in their power to block Payne's attempt in the second half. They (Harlan County) were even called offsides twice in a row in an attempt to get a preemptive jump on the Panthers' snap, but were unsuccessful, allowing both girls to connect on each of their respective PATs.
"I thought that one of them was coming to hit me," said Payne. "I wasn't really worried about it though, because I thought to myself, 'I have all of this protective gear on, it probably won't hurt too bad.' Luckily, they weren't able to make it to me, and I hit the PAT."
When asked what they thought would have happened if a Harlan County player would have attempted to tackle either of them, both were in agreement that the whole team would have had erupted.
"I think the whole team would have jumped on them, they weren't going to let anything happen to us," said Partin. "They would have had our backs for sure, they all care about us a lot." added Payne.
Both girls are looking forward to continuing to kick for the Panthers for the rest of the season, and are looking forward to their first home game of the season this Friday against Paintsville.
"The guys are so supportive," the girls agreed. "The whole coaching staff, the fans, and the whole team are so great to us," they said. "As soon as we both connected on each kick, they were high-fiving us and slapping our helmets, it was really awesome," added Payne. "They were probably happier about it than we were, they went crazy," Partin said with a laugh.
Originally, Partin's brother was set to kick the PATs, but strained a muscle in his hip, allowing Ivy to step in. Payne had heard that the team needed a kicker, and upon showing up to practice, saw Partin, and was even more excited to give kicking a try.
"My brother was supposed to do it originally, and he strained his hip, so I gave it a try," said Partin. "I had heard that they needed a kicker and were looking for someone," said Payne. "I came out to try it, and saw Ivy there, and it made me even more eager to try. I'm glad this is something we're doing together."
In their first home game of the season, both girls expect the Knox Central faithful to erupt should they connect on more PATs.
"They went crazy at Harlan County," said Payne. "Yeah, they went totally crazy for us on the road, I can only imagine what it'll be like at home. I think they will go wild, and that's very exciting," Partin concluded.
The Knox Central Panthers will host the Paintsville Tigers in their home opener on Friday, with kick off slated for 7:30.