Faces in KS: Missy Dantic

Missy Dantic of Labette County has range in the high 40's. (courtesy photo)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Oct 2, 2014

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If you follow high school football in the Southeast Kansas area over the last two seasons, then you have probably heard about Labette County High School junior kicker, Melissa Dantic. We have had her on radio (ESPN 100.7) about being the first female kicker to make a field goal in the SEK League, beating her boyfriend, the Parsons kicker, by an extra point last season etc. Multiple outlets have ran stories on her about the rare occasion of a female playing high school football. But the real story here isn’t just that Dantic is the first female kicker to make a field goal in the history of the Southeast Kansas League, it’s that she’s becoming one of the better kickers (male or female) in Kansas High School football.

“This season has went really great so far and I am very proud of all that we have accomplished,” Dantic said. “I would be nothing without my team, especially the PAT/Field Goal unit. Without my blockers, holder, and snapper, none of my kicks would ever make it through the uprights.”

Some high schools in Kansas suffer to find an individual who can convert PAT’s, let alone have a kicker with a 33 yard field goal to their credit that has a range in the high 40’s against live opponents in practice.

“I have went 47 yards against a live team in practice and can go 50 with the ball set perfect and a lot of time,” Dantic said. “I really want to beat my 33 yard school record.”

According to Maxpreps there are only 15 kickers in Kansas who have connected for 33 or more yards on field goals after the first four weeks of the 2014 football season. The season high in Kansas is currently a 47 yarder. The all-time state record in Kansas for a field goal in high school is 57 yards according to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. The national record for a high school girl is believed to be 48-yards (unofficially). Anne Shafer of Topeka High's 40 yard field goal against Lawrence in 2005 is believed to be the longest field goal by a female in the history of Kansas high school football. Dantic may be a long way from overall state records, but Shafer's record is definitely reachable.

“Our goal as a unit this season is to kick a 50-yarder. I know if we get the chance, we can do it,” Dantic said.

Dantic, an ex-soccer player, isn’t just looking to play high school football. She wants to eventually kick in college.

“I would love to get the chance to play college ball, so as of now that’s my ultimate personal goal,” Dantic said. “I am not finished yet, I want to do this as long as I can.”

Dantic has become quite the story in Kansas this season, but more than anything is becoming quite the high school kicker. If you think that you may be good at something, you never know what can happen if you take the chance like Dantic did with football. 

"You just have to go for it. If you think too long about something you will psych yourself out." Dantic said.

4A-I Labette County (2-2), led by head coach Jesse Ybarra, has won two consecutive games and will play against Coffeyville this week. You can expect the LCHS crowd to be chanting "WE WANT MISSY!" .

We caught up with her below…

Q&A w/ Dantic

How did you get involved in kicking?

Mr. Ybarra came and talked to me late in my freshman year. He had seen me in my club soccer shirts, and he thought “well, surely if she is good enough to be a part of an elite soccer team, she can kick a ball, and if she can kick a soccer ball, surely she could learn to kick a football.” So he had talked to me quite a bit - just small talk - and then, just out of the blue one day, he asked if I had ever thought about kicking a football. I had. I told him that the problem with kicking for football was that it would completely interfere with soccer. As I thought about it and looked at what all I was missing, I went and talked to him and told him I would love to give it a chance! Now, when I say I looked at the things I was missing, I mean my whole high school experience. It was hard because the soccer team I was playing for was located in in Owasso, Oklahoma. That’s nearly a 2 hour drive. I was traveling 3 nights a week for practices that started at 7:30and lasted at least 2 hours, some nights even three. Now if you do the math on that, I wouldn’t eat dinner until like 9:30, and there were nights I wouldn’t even be able to begin my homework until I got home which was 11:45-12:00, if I was lucky. I also really wanted to be involved in the fall musical, but the rehearsal nights interfered with the nights of my practice. On weekends we had to travel to Owasso, Oklahoma City, and more times than not, Dallas. Our games were in the mornings and the tournaments lasted all day. In saying this, that means we were packing up and hitting the roads on Friday evening for soccer the next morning. It was a lot of hotels and long car rides, which isn’t bad. I had a blast, don’t get me wrong, but I really would have liked to gone to more of the football games on Friday nights. So taking all of this into consideration, I came to the conclusion that this opportunity may never come again and it opened so many doors here at LC. I’m glad I made the decision I did because had I not, I still may feel like the new girl.

What is it like to be the only girl on the high school football team?

You know, when I’m with the guys, I just feel like one of the guys. They don’t treat me any differently. So it’s been an awesome experience being “one of the guys.” It’s one I never would have gotten had I never moved, or even just given up soccer.

How has this season went for you so far?

This season has gone really well so far.  I’m very proud of all that we’ve accomplished as a team as well as my personal achievements. We’ve done some really good things, and I can’t wait to see what else is to come this year. This year so far I have set a couple of records: I was the first female in the SEK to score anything more than a PAT, with a 31 yard field goal. (The year before I was the first female to score a point in general in the SEK.) I’ve also set the school record with a 33 yarder in our game against Osawatomie. In the remainder of this season and the season to come I hope to keep breaking that record so its a lot harder to beat.

What style of kicker are you?

After all my years of being a soccer player, the easiest way for me to kick a football, is to kick it just like a soccer ball. I’m definitely a soccer style kicker all the way.

What's the longest field goal you've ever made in a game, practice?

The longest field goal I’ve made during a game was a 33 yarder. During practice, my farthest has been a 47 yarder with a line going against me, the snap, and the hold. With none of that and me setting the ball up absolutely perfect and with all the time in the world, I have hit a 50 yarder.

Any goals as a kicker?

My goals personally would probably be to keep breaking those records! I would love to get a chance to play college ball, so as of now that’s my ultimate personal goal.  I know I’m good enough, you just never know what can pop up.  Injuries happen every day, even when you’re doing everything right, it happens. So, as of now I’m living in the moment and if anything like that does happen, then we’ll take it day by day. Our goal as a field goal unit is to go out there and hit a 50 yarder during a game. I believe in the guys whole heartedly and I know we can do it - we’ve just got to get the chance!

Do you still play soccer?

No, I do not. There has been a rumor going around that Altamont may be getting a soccer team next year.  If that is true, I would have to talk to both of the coaches to see if we could work something out. No matter what happens, football is definitely in my future.

Do you see yourself kicking in college?

Yes, I do. I’m not finished yet! I want to continue to do what I do for as long as I can. I don’t want to quit, and I won’t until I can’t go anymore.

Do you feel a lot of pressure as the high schools kicker?

You know, in a way I do. Every time I go out there I’m in front of a bunch of people, some I don’t know and others I do. I don’t want to let anyone down out there.  When I’m kicking, all eyes are on me, and any mistake I make everyone sees.  That really pushes me to be better, and to not make mistakes.

How many hours a week do you practice kicking?

It depends on so many things, but I would say I probably average at about 8-10 hours a week at least, given I’m healthy and good to go!

Did you do anything in the off-season to become a better kicker?

During the off season I attended most of the after school conditionings just to stay fit and in shape. I take a kick boxing class on Wednesdays and starting this winter I will be participating in a TRX suspension training class. I also would go out, weather permitting, and kick with my boyfriend for hours at a time, but that doesn’t seem like work.  It never seems like work - I love kicking.

What is it like to live in Altamont?

I don’t actually live I the city of Altamont. I live in the outskirts of Parsons, and it’s really cool because all of my extended family lives within 15 minutes of my driveway! Living in a place like Parsons or Altamont, you’ve got that small town feel, everybody knows everybody, and I love that.

Advice to a girl that is unsure about trying out for football?

You just have to go for it! If you think too long you may psych yourself out. I know I almost did! If you’re really thinking about going out for football and you aren’t already pretty close to some of the guys, get close. It makes it a lot easier to be on a team when you aren’t a complete stranger to all of them. Over all, playing football with this team has been the best experience I could ask for. It’s given me so many opportunities and some of the best feelings I could ever imagine. So my advice to any girl out there interested in going out for football? Do it! Dive in head first and don’t be afraid to work your butt off, because in the end, it’s completely worth all the blood sweat and tears that you put in. Yeah, you WILL struggle and you WILL fall down, but never give up. Don’t let what someone says or thinks stop you from doing what you want. Don’t hesitate. Just do it. Go out there and show them what you’ve got!

What is it like to play for coach Ybarra?

Playing for coach Ybarra has been a great experience. He’s such an inspirational coach. He doesn’t only challenge us on the field, but in life too. He’s always there for us and supports us 100% in everything we do. He holds us accountable for every move we make, and being in high school, that’s a huge deal. We get so lost in this world that we live in, its so easy to fall off track, but he’s there for every one of us on the team. I know that he may be hard on us at times, but he definitely means well. He only wants the best for all of us. Had Ybarra not approached me first, I still might be off playing soccer and missing out on my years in high school. I mean, we only get four of them… Without him I never would have done this myself. He’s a huge reason I am who I am today. Being on his team has been a huge blessing in itself. I’m so lucky he’s my coach because not every coach is as open as he was and still is. He believes in me wholeheartedly every time he sends me out on that field, and that’s a big deal. I couldn’t ask for a better coach.