Leilani Armenta came to Jackson State University to play soccer, but made history as a kicker on the football team when she entered Saturday’s game against Bethune-Cookman (JSU’s opening home game). As an on-field kicker, she became thefirst female player for the JSU Tigers. Adding history to history, however, she is also the first female to play on a Division One HBCU football team.
Armenta hails from Ventura, California, graduating from Saint Bonaventure High School. For her high school team, she scored on 98 out of 105 extra point attempts and on 5 out of 5 field goals as a kicker. She, nevertheless, had been out of the kicking game since that time, due to leg injuries.
Despite her absence from the field for so long, based upon her past record and how she had performed in practice, the freshman was called upon to handle the duty of place kicker on the collegiate level. Coach T.C. Taylor turned to her in the absence of injured kicker, Gerardo Baeza. Although he did not call upon her to attempt any extra points and left the punting duties to Matt Noll, he left the kick-offs in her hands.
Many JSU fans are now anxiously praying for her development and for Baeza’s return from his injuries. History has been made. Now it is on with winning the SWAC championship.