Leilani Armenta made history late last month when she kicked off the game for Jackson State against SWAC opponent Bethune-Cookman, Rollingout.com reported. Being an on-field kicker, she became the first female player for the Jackson State Tigers football team and also the first female to play on a Division One HBCU football team, according to Jackson Advocate.
Armenta had come to Jackson State University to play soccer but ended up making history on September 23 as a kicker on the football team. The opening kick traveled just a few yards, with some social media users describing it as the worst kick in college football ever.
“Deion left and now they got white girls kicking the ball,” another X user wrote. Many believe that Armenta was added to the team mainly for publicity. But that could not be the exact reason for her involvement, analysts say. Hailing from Ventura, California, and graduating from Saint Bonaventure High School, Armenta has a background in high school football and was a kicker for four years.
She scored on 98 out of 105 extra point attempts and on 5 out of 5 field goals as a kicker for her high school team, Jackson Advocate reported, adding that she went out of the kicking game due to injuries.
Due to her past record, she was asked to be the place kicker on the collegiate level in the absence of injured kicker, Gerardo Baeza, the platform added. This came four days after she joined Jackson State University. It was also her first game 10 months post ACL surgery.
In spite of the criticism, Armenta said she was grateful to her fans for all their support during and after the game.
Data USA states that even though Jackson State University’s student body is predominantly Black (92.55%), there are a few white students at the HBCU (2.82%). According to the university’s equal opportunity statement, JSU “recruits, admits, and provides services, financial aid, and instruction to all students” irrespective of race, sex, religion or national origin.