PADUCAH, KY -- Paducah Tilghman's Shelby Nickal has grown up playing soccer, but loves the game of football. So much so, that she now spends her Friday nights on the sidelines as the kicker for the Blue Tornado.
"It started out as a joke, but it became real," she said.
It all began over the summer at a cookout hosted by the Paducah Tilghman coaching staff. Nickal was there with her father, new Tilghman athletic director Jason Nickal. A conversation began about how the Blue Tornado desperately needed a new place kicker.
"About two or three days later, I get a video of Shelby from her dad, on our practice field, of her kicking and drilling extra points and field goals," Tilghman head coach Jonathan Smith said.
It wasn't long before Smith convinced Shelby to join the team.
"I got a lot of stares and felt a lot of whispers behind my back," Shelby said about her first practice. "Once I got into a game, everything started clicking more. Then the guys got more comfortable with me and I was able to be a part of the team."
No better example of Nickal being embraced by the team could be seen than during the third quarter of Paducah Tilghman's game against Mayfield. Nickal stopped what would have been a kickoff return for a touchdown that kept Tilghman in the game.
"My adrenaline was definitely going then," she said.
"She isn't intimidated at all," Smith said. " She saved six points without a doubt on that play."
But don't be worried about her going up against the boy's. As the sister of an NCAA wrestling champion in Bo Nickal, she is used to the punishment.
"I have been around big guys my entire life," Nickal said. "So I feel like I can hold my own. I am very confident in that."
She is also confident that she can prove girls can play football too.
"There is a saying that 'just because you are a girl, you can do anything and probably do it better than you, and in heels with makeup on," she said.
So far, no heels or makeup have been seen on the field, but Nickal has yet to miss a kick yet this season.