TOPEKA (KSNT) – Topeka High’s Talayah Thomas is helping pave the way for girls in football.

“I often hear stuff like ‘Oh, she’s not strong enough to kick,’ and all this other stuff, or like ‘Oh, you’re only a kicker, of course,” Talayah said.

However, Talayah is anything but weak.

“Look me up on Hudl,” she said. “I’m on there.”

She’s been Topeka High’s starting kicker for three seasons.

“She does her part,” Carlos Kelly, Topeka High head football coach, said. “She’s not just a lady by the sideline watching…she’s a football player.”

She grew up playing football with her brothers, and in her dad’s youth football team. 

“It was something that she wanted to do,” Tobian Thomas, Talayah’s dad, said. “She would be at all of the practices running around, and she would do a lot of the conditioning and the sprints and everything. We started noticing, ‘Hey, she’s up there in the front and running with the boys.’”

Even while playing flag football, her competitive spirit shined. Then, one day out of boredom, Talayah tried kicking.

“I didn’t really want to wait until, like, basketball season,” Talayah said. “My dad mentioned football, and then I mentioned it to my brother, and he was like ‘No, you’re not going to go out there and kick.’ He didn’t really want me to kick, actually. So, then I just showed up at a practice and started kicking.”

Not only has she become an accurate kicker for the team, but she’s a leader in the locker room.

“She has her opinions and she voices those, and the guys do listen,” Kelly said. “They don’t just dismiss her at all. They respect her voice and her leadership because what she does say is the right way to be.”

The rest of the team treats her as one of the guys. It’s just like playing with more brothers, Talayah said.

“We’re constantly saying, ‘Hey, you can go out, work hard and do whatever you’ve got to do, and you’re going to get certain things in life,'” Tobian said. “So, why would we cut it short whenever it comes to football? More and more parents should allow them the opportunity to get out there and give it a try.”