FALCONER – A Falconer football player is breaking through barriers, one kick at a time.
Brailyn Paladino is the first female kicker on the Falconer-Cassadaga Football Team. The 15-year-old sophomore at Falconer Central School has played sports most of her life before she found her passion for football, specifically the kicker position where she builds off her previous soccer experiences.
When she tried out for the squad, Paladino says she felt a lot of pressure, not from others at the school, but from inside herself.
“Especially being surrounded by boys all the time, it’s more mental than anything, I definitely am able to physically do it, you just gotta tell yourself you can do it,” explained Paladino.
She says her teammates, all who are young men, accepted her to their ranks. The support isn’t just from her team, but her friends and family too. Specifically, her father who works with his daughter one-on-one to build her skills.
“Football has been in my life since I was a little girl,” said Paladino. “A couple years ago my dad started coaching JV (junior varsity) then he moved to modified for the school and I wanted to kick, but then certain things got in my head and I decided not to.”
But once Paladino built up her confidence and tried out for the team, she found success.
“They (the fans and her team) were super excited,” said Paladino. “It was super amazing.”
In the end, the young trailblazer wants to inspire others to follow their dreams too.
“I thought I was going to be left out because I’m a girl, or I wasn’t going to be good enough, but then I did it, and I think it is definitely about your mindset,” furthered Paladino. “You always have to believe in yourself, don’t ever forget about that.”
As for what’s next, Paladino says she plans to continue with the team through senior year. However, her father and coach say with continued practice she could take it to the next level.