Hartley McCay plays kicker for PJHS football team – Elmore-Autauga News

By Tatum Northington

Elmore/Autauga News

Prattville Junior High School has added a new addition to its 8th grade football team. Hartley McCay, 13, is the team’s kicker.

This is her first year playing football and she is expected to start for kickoffs, PATs and field goals. While she was a superb athlete in her own right in football and basketball, Hartley’s plans were to always play football. What may have started as a joke between a 5-year-old kid and a head coach turned out to be reality.

Sporting director and head coach Donny Burnett told EAN he met Hartley “about eight years ago when his older brother was on the PJHS archery team. I was friends with her mom and knew she was an athlete by following her Facebook posts. I always told her when she came to PJHS that she could kick it for me.

When Hartley came to Junior High as a 7th grader, she stuck to football but added basketball, which was her first time playing on a team. Hartley ended up starting for Burnett as a 7th grader and was the team’s third-leading scorer. So, naturally, Hartley told Burnett she was going to play football and showed up for spring training and summer practices. She also attended all soccer and basketball practices. “She’s earned her spot on this team,” Burnett said.

You could say that Hartley was born to play sports. His mother, Heather McCay, explained: “We love football in our family and (Hartley’s) first word was literally the ball. I wasted so much money on dolls and makeup when the kid is just happy to have a ball in her hand so we’re not surprised at all that she chose to come out for the team of soccer.

Hartley loves soccer and told us it’s his favorite sport.

“If I had to choose, it would be soccer, soccer, then basketball,” she said.

When EAN said she was the only girl on the team, Hartley said her teammates and classmates were all supportive.

“Guys treat me like one of them and I know they support me. All my friends wear my number on their face on game day and everyone was really supportive.

She said she didn’t mind being the only girl because she lifted weights, did exercises, and took team punishments and triumphs, as a member of the team, with no special treatment. Burnett said: “Boys don’t care if she’s a girl or an alien, and I don’t care. I’m just happy to have a kicker we can rely on.

He made sure Hartley had accommodations to dress and get ready, but he drags him down and maybe even yells at him, like any other player on the team.

Hartley doesn’t care if she’s first, she’s just happy to be there to score extra points and put the ball where she’s told on kickoffs.

Heather McCay said: “You just want your kids to be happy so it was kind of hard to say no to her game when all the coaches as well as her teammates have been so supportive! My daughter is living her dream there on that soccer field. I have to laugh though, because it all started as a joke with Hartley and Coach B and now it’s our real life. We just love him and it warms my heart to see him happy too!

If Hartley was successful, she says she’d be out there “tacking and blocking” in addition to kicking, but right now she has to leave the court after kicking. Burnett said he “promised mum and her soccer coach there wouldn’t be too much contact” as she learns about the sport and what she needs to do. It looks like Hartley is getting pretty good at her craft. According to his stats, Hartley is solid from around 34 yards out and improving every week.

The team is currently 1-0 this season, beating Valley last week 21-6. Tonight they face Phenix City at home. Grade 7 plays at 5 p.m. while Grade 8 will start around 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased from GoFan, with doors opening at 4:30 p.m. “Blackout!”

Speaking of the future, Burnett and McCay say it may be one and done, but they know never to say “never” when it comes to Hartley. If you ask Hartley, she wants to continue playing in 9th grade and then college, and end up being the placekicker for Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss.

“My mum and dad went to Ole Miss and my dad played football there. I grew up loving Ole Miss and I want to be their kicker. There’s no dream too big for Hartley, as she breaks down barriers wherever she goes.

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