Simon Fraser University football team kicker Kristie Elliott, has broken new ground for women in college sports. The 21-year-old booted a pair of successful conversions against Oregon’s Linfield University on Sept. 11, becoming the first Canadian woman to play in — and score in — an NCAA football game. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
Kicker Kristie Elliott is used to walking into the locker room backwards.
As the lone woman on Simon Fraser University’s football team, Elliott knows her male teammates could be in various states of undress and she’s found the unique entrance acts as a bit of a warning.
“I don’t want to see anything,” she said with a laugh.
It’s taken some adaptations, but Elliott has broken new ground for women in college sports. The 21-year-old booted a pair of successful conversions against Oregon’s Linfield University on Sept. 11, becoming the first Canadian woman to play in — and score in — an NCAA football game.
The milestone was “kind of overwhelming,” said the fourth-year psychology major.
“I’m just going out there, playing football, doing something that I love to do,” she said. “I just love the game of football and I’m just proud of myself that I got to go out there and play my first game.”
Elliott’s love of the game is relatively recent.It started in 2019 when she bet an SFU football player $40 that she could kick a 40-yard field goal. Elliott was athletic, a hurdler on the university’s track and field team and a longtime soccer player, but she’d never kicked a football before.
Inexperience didn’t stop her from trying, though, and, while Elliott said it wasn’t pretty, she made the kick and sent the football player video evidence of her achievement.
Soon, she was getting messages from other guys from the team encouraging her to try out. Eventually she got in touch with the head coach, who told her she had potential.”I said `Coach, I don’t know anything about football. I’ve never even seen a full game, I can’t tell you any rules. I know what a touchdown is, that’s pretty much it,”‘ Elliott said.
After some reassurance, Elliott hired a kicking coach and started studying the game. Then she headed to training camp.
The first team meeting was a “very intimidating experience.”
“I walk in there and heads turn and everyone was looking at me,” she said. “I remember some of the guys saying they thought I was the team trainer. I got asked if I was a teammate’s girlfriend.”
Elliott made the team in 2019 but struggled mentally because she was new to the sport. She didn’t play a game that season.
“I felt like I had a lot of pressure on myself and like I had to prove something to myself because I was on the team,” she said.