A Dream Finally Realized: April Goss makes football history

April Goss sits down with Stephen Means, of the Kent Stater, to talk about being the second female to score in college football, on Wednesday Sept 16, 2015 at Dix Stadium.

Stephen Means II

On August 30, 2003, Katie Hnida opened a door. 

When Hnida kicked an extra point at the University of New Mexico, she became the first female to score a point in college football. It fulfilled a dream she had since she was 14 years old.

On that day, a 9-year-old would go on to accomplish that same feat 12 years later.

Meet April Goss, a fifth-year senior at Kent State University.

Following a 52-3 loss to Illinois, a reporter asked head coach Paul Haynes what the chances were of Goss ever getting a chance to see the field in her final season.

“Before this year’s out, she’ll get out there. I promise you that,” Haynes said.

For Goss, it was all about being patient and waiting for the right moment.

“I knew that an opportunity was coming and this being my last year I was like ‘Okay if it’s going to happen, it’s this year,’” Goss said.

Going into the game against Delaware State, Goss knew that this would most likely be the best chance at this point in the season for her to possibly get on the field.

“I was nervous that day and I’m an over thinker on everything so I was waiting for the game and just staying to myself,” the Aliquippa, Pensylvania native said. “Usually I’m relaxed and fine but one of the guys (senior punter Anthony Melchiori) was like, ‘April, it’s just a kick.’ I was like, ‘ I know, but it’s different.’”

Goss couldn’t believe it was finally happening after all these years.

Goss first took interest in football during her junior year of high school. It wasn’t something her parents were necessarily thrilled about when she came to them with the idea.

“I was a little worried that she would get hurt,” her mother Kim Goss said. “But she was very persistent and eventually her father (Craig Goss) gave in and taught her how to kick.”

Prior to joining Hopewell High School football team, Goss was a member of the soccer team.

For Goss, the lack of playing time was never an issue. Her frustration instead came from whether or not she would ever get the opportunity to even get to join the team.

“Even getting a try out it seemed not possible,” Goss said.  “I wouldn’t say I got a lot of negative reactions because I was wanting to play in college but because it wasn’t something that people did. It was just frustrating from the standpoint that I trained for a year and a half until I got my tryouts.”

Goss was one of three girls to try out for Football Bowl Subdivision schools in the spring of 2012.

“I remember my first year there were two girls walking on,” Goss said. “One at Virginia Tech and one at LSU. Unfortunately, they both didn’t make it.” 

Once she made the team, the challenge turned from being good enough to make the team to good enough to get on the field.

“It’s been like four and a half years that I’ve been on the team,” Goss said. “Sometimes you wonder if this hard work going to pay off.”

Goss was able to cope with the fact that her chance to play was slim to none by constantly putting the team first but also taking every opportunity she could to get better, even if that meant putting in overtime.

Haynes emphasized how Goss consistently is the first person to practice and the last to leave on a daily basis.

With a comfortable lead in the second quarter, Haynes finally saw that opportunity that he had promised one week prior.

“I prepared her before we kicked,” Haynes said. “I didn’t want to surprise her and just call her name. I had somebody go over to her and tell her if we score again you’re going to kick.”

So with 4:40 left in the first half, Goss made an extra point that put the Flashes up 29-6 and made her the second female in FBS college football history to score a point.

Goss was first put into contact with Katie Hnida through Twitter when Hnida reach out to her. They met in person when Hnida came to speak at Kent State last October. 

“So we have been able to stay in touch pretty frequently over these couple of days just with just saying ‘oh my gosh Katie what if this is the game’ or ‘give me some advice,’” Goss said. “The biggest thing that she said which I think was really helpful was don’t put so much pressure on my performance or myself. I kind of wish I would have gone back and enjoyed the morning practice and everything because yes I’ll always remember that kick but it’s these times with my teammates that I’ll miss the most.”

Goss wasn’t all that happy with her historic kick. Like most athletes, she still found a way to find something wrong with how she kicked instead of just enjoying the fact that what she just accomplished was both rare and amazing.

“I’m not going to lie, I was kind of disappointed in the kick,” Goss said. “It definitely wasn’t what I had pictured in my head or what I had practiced for.”

There’s no telling whether or not this is the last time that Goss will get to see the field. But with that initial time now over with, Goss’ focus has turned to doing all she can to help the team have success.

“There’s a saying that we talk about all the time that a win is so much more enjoyable,” Goss said. “We have an opportunity to do something that no team has ever done. We haven’t won a MAC Championship in four years and we’ve never won a bowl game. So just to be able to do that is the main goal.”

That team-first attitude is what allowed Goss to persevere even when it didn’t look like she would ever see the field.

“I had to start preparing myself for if this moment doesn’t happen, I needed to be okay,” Goss said. “I needed to know that I didn’t fail, that I’ve accomplished so much and get out of myself and focus on the team and what we could accomplish.”

On August 30, 2003, Katie Hnida opened the door. On September 12, 2015, April Goss walked through it.

Now the question is, why don’t more females pursue college football?

“I just feel like there is kind of a barrier,” Goss said. “I remember that when I was walking on, some people had never ever heard of Katie Hnida. Some didn’t even know that a female had ever played at this level. It’s just sometimes the idea of failure is greater than the idea of success.”

Contact Stephen Means II at [email protected].