Turning Heads: Maya Turner's Kick Heard Around the Nation.
In a groundbreaking moment for women in sports, Maya Turner's game-winning kick echoed through the Nation and made its way into USPORTs history books. Let's discuss that;
It all started back at Loyola University in Chicago where Maya Turner had recently retired from University Soccer. The Minnesota native had thought things over and wanted to try her hand, or foot, at kicking the ball in a different way. This was when Manitoba Bison's head coach, Brian Dobie received an email (or three) containing Turner's practice film. Dobie knew almost immediately that Maya had what it took to earn a spot on the Manitoba Bisons Men's Football Team.
Maya was invited to compete for a roster spot during camp in April 2022 and out-kicked incumbent Cole Sabourin. Sabourin was later quoted saying "She was matching me kick for kick and even sometimes she was kicking better than me". Maya Turner had officially made the roster and became the second woman to ever join the U of M Bisons. While she ended up Redshirting during her first year in the program, Turner made it a point to continue honing her craft and was finally rewarded with an opportunity. On August 24th, 2023, the U of M Bisons were facing the Regina Rams in a preseason matchup where Turner was given the chance to show off her skills during an actual game. In their 26-7 win over Regina, Maya Turner went 2/2 on Field Goals, with a long of 39 yards, and was Good on her only PAT. This preseason game would eventually pave the way for Turner to immortalize herself in the history of USPORTs.
It was an overcast September day with little to no wind when Maya Turner took to the field in front of her family and approximately 4500 fans as the first woman to play in a regular-season game. She was listed as the second Kicker on the Depth Chart before the game but was given the first field goal opportunity early in the Second Quarter.
With 3 quick steps from 21 yards away, Maya Turner became the first woman to score points (and kick a field goal) in USPORTs history! Turner would go on to complete 3 Point After Attempts bringing her total to 4/4 on kicks. After some hard work put in by the Offence, the Manitoba Bisons overcame a 16-10 deficit and were tied with the Rams 24-24 at the end of the Fourth Quarter. The game was going into overtime and the stage was being set for Turner to kick a game-winning field goal. Again, from 21 yards away, Maya Turner lined up and THE. KICK. IS. GOOD! After a missed 45-yard attempt by the Rams, the U of M Bisons won it off the foot of Maya Turner!
To some, Maya's historic debut was not a matter of "If?", but a matter of When? Winnipeg Blue Bomber's current Kicker, Sergio Castillo said that Turner is "Very coachable, locked in, from the very beginning. And the cool thing is there’s going to be girls in elementary, in middle school, high school, that are going to look at her and go, ‘I want to be like Maya.’ I’m getting chills just thinking about it right now.". The message that Maya Turner sent is an extremely important one;
"If you want it enough then there’s nothing stopping you, And don’t let being a girl deter you from your dreams.” - Maya Turner
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