Strawn's K-Lani Nava Makes PATs & History

Leman Saunders

Six-man expert
By: Leman Saunders

As you can imagine Strawn place kicker K-Lani Nava has received quite a bit of attention yesterday and today. She has been a part of the Strawn Greyhounds' football team since her freshman year and this year, in her senior season, with a Strawn state title berth she has been thrust into the spotlight.

Yesterday afternoon K-Lani became the first female to play in a Texas high school football state championship game and became the first to score a fact she scored 18 points as she went 9/10 with her PAT attempts. The single miss was due to a block by Balmorhea.

Those that have played six-man football know just why PAT kicks are worth 2-points instead of the traditional 1-point....for starters it is hard to make as six defenders are bearing down hard trying to block it while only three offensive players are trying to block them (it is hard for a center to get a good snap off and then get a block). This makes everything rushed and a need for things to work perfectly, the snap, the hold the kick and even then that might not be enough. Secondly, good kickers are hard to find in small high schools. When Nava decided to forgo the long travel to the Metro-Plex for competitive soccer and decided to take her kicking talents to the football field she gave the Greyhounds that rare commodity of an accurate place kicker.

K-Lani has said it was a hard transition at first just to be accepted, but she didn't back down from the challenge and proved herself on the field. After her first few games and her teammates, most of whom she had grown up with in and around the small town of Strawn (population 649), she was fully accepted and her gender difference quickly forgotten.

Strawn head coach Dewaine Lee has always maintained that she has been treated just like any other player. He welcomed her on the team without pause, but was upfront about how she wouldn't get special treatment and would have to earn her spot on the team, be subject to full practices, running and tackling drills, conditioning and weight lifting...and the sharp tongue of an angry coach if she made a mistake. Nava was undeterred and went on to to earn her spot as primary place kicked on the extra point team.

In the Greyhound's semi-final win over Milford, 102-71, Nava had one of her worst games, going 5/12 and being replaced at one point by backup placekicker Junior Cevantes who didn't fare much better going 1/3. In their off week before the state game coach Lee told her how important her job was to the team and she worked on her kicking and was back in there to attempt the extra point kick after Strawn's first touchdown Wednesday afternoon in the 1A division II state championship game at AT&T Stadium. Her kick was up and good and it tied the game at 8 early in the first quarter and sealed Nava's place in Texas High School Football History. In addition to making history as a female athlete, her 9/10 performance is tied for the 7th best performance in a six-man state game and her 9 conversions tied for the fifth most. She was no doubt a big part in Strawn's 78-42 win over Balmorhea and earning the schools third state title.

Nava garnered some votes for the games Offensive MVP, but the honor went to Strawn running back Tanner Hodgkins. In the post game press conference a majority of the questions were for and about K-Lani. She was humbled by it all and said that she put all the history making out of her mind and was just focused on making her kicks and helping her team win a state championship. Her coach and teammates were proud of her and maintained that she was always part of the team and always accepted as just another Greyhound.

On the season Nava went 93/115 for 80.86% which is outstanding in six-man football, she also caught one 1-point PAT pass conversion in a game this season bringing her total points scored to 187 on the season. So far she has received 1st team all-district honors as a kicker and 1st team all-region honors as well, the all-state teams have not been released yet, but it is a safe bet that she is in the running to make that team too.

Congrats to K-Lani Nava and the Greyhounds on a great season.
There is a lot of media out there about Nava, if yall see bad comments I would suggest combating them with facts or just try your best to ignore them, remember that national people are very uninformed about six-man football.
Great article regarding the bigger picture. She worked four years at this and had to carry her weight the whole time. It wasn't just a novelty thing.