Talk about girl power.
Kelly Macnamara became the first female football player in North Penn High School history when she joined the team as a kicker during her sophomore year. Now, at 17, she’s contributed to an undefeated season – and gone viral in the process.
A video showing the kicker’s leveling hit against a Central Bucks High School East player in a game Friday has earned national attention and positioned Macnamara as an inspiration to young female athletes everywhere.
While the Internet may have been surprised by the kicker’s big-time hit during a special teams reverse play, her coach, Dick Beck, says her masterful moment wasn’t completely unexpected.
“The message I hope people will take away from [seeing this video] is that girls can do anything,” Beck tells PEOPLE. “But we’ve always known that.”
Beck says the team was thrilled to have Macnamara suit up last year – and that the only adjustment the team needed to make to add a girl to its roster was logistical.
“The only hard part was getting used to her finding a locker room to use when we went to away games,” he says. “There was never an issue with her being the only female. The other players have really taken her in. She fits in perfectly.”
Macnamara knocked down two field goals and three extra points during Friday night’s game – helping to add a 33-14 victory to North Penn’s 7-0 record this season. Still, her first tackle was definitely a game –and career—highlight.
“The players were going crazy on the sidelines. They sprinted out on the field to congratulate her,” Beck says. “It seemed like they were going to put her on their shoulders and carry her off the field!”
That celebration of her performance has continued on a national level. Her mom, Jane Macnamara, says the whole family has been “overwhelmed” by all the attention her daughter’s hit has brought, but adds that she’s proud to see Kelly and her teammates’ hard work get some well-deserved recognition.
“She’s a great kid and she has put so much time and effort into practicing,” her mom tells PEOPLE. “But she has always said that having such a good and supportive team is what makes playing fun – if it wasn’t for their success she wouldn’t be seeing the field as much as she is.”
Macnamara has enjoyed her time with North Penn so much that she says she’d like to continue kicking in college. Her coach says any university would be lucky to have her.
“She could go to any school and keep kicking field goals and extra points,” he says. “I have no doubt about that.”