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This Mississippi Homecoming Queen Is Also a Varsity Football Player

For her September homecoming, Mississippi high school senior Mary Kate Smith planned two outfits: first, she wore a glittery white mermaid-tailed dress as homecoming queen. Then she changed into a helmet and pads to play in South Jones High School’s football game against Wingfield High. The 17-year-old is the varsity team’s kicker, and her coach calls her “one of the most highly competitive athletes — male or female — I’ve seen.”

Mary Kate has been playing soccer since she was 3, and she regularly kicks 40-yard field goals in practice. She initially considered trying out for football her junior year, but was worried about fitting it into her schedule. This year, with her friends’ encouragement, she did it all.

Like fellow female football player 11-year-old Sam Gordon, Mary Kate’s future may lie in Division I soccer; she’s looking at the University of Southern Mississippi and also considering a career as an orthodontist. For now, on the football field, she’s inspiring the next Sam Gordons: “I was running off the field during a break in the game and two little girls ran up,” Mary Kate told TODAY, “[They] said, ‘Mary Kate, we love you! You’re my hero!’” She joins our book of ass-kicking girl heroes too. Click through the gallery above to meet other female athletes who have broken boundaries in male-dominated sports.

Featured photo by Bobby Harvison Photography