Middletown placekicker Kayla Bierlein has proven to be a solid weapon for the top-ranked Cavaliers football team, but she'll soon be showcasing her skills as a role model.
Bierlein, who has battled asthma since she was 3-years-old, will be hosting a meet-and-greet after her team's practice on Thursday, October 25 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Cavaliers Stadium.
The $5 admission fee will be a fundraiser for the Asthma & Allergy Foundation. She will give kicking lessons, sign autographs, and take pictures, but she says one of her goals is to inspire young athletes to try new experiences, like her attempt at football after a successful soccer career.
"I've had asthma since I was three, but I don't like to let athletics hold me back. I want them to ask me questions, and kick a few and have a good time."
Bierlein started playing soccer at age 8, and now plays for the Delaware Union travel team.
While she loves playing soccer, there's still the question how she ended up kicking extra points on Friday nights.
"Honestly, I ask myself the same question sometimes. I came out because my soccer coaches told me I have a very strong foot, so I should try football."
Cavliers kicking coach Gene Beitman said when she tried out before the 2017 season, his decision became clear fairly quickly.
"Kayla made my decision on who would be our kicker a very easy one. Once I saw how much this meant to her and how much she was willing to work. I knew we were onto something. Combined with her impressive leg strength, I knew we had our kicker for the next two seasons."
Kayla has had to learn what can be a difficult transition from soccer to football, but it came with work before that 2017 tryout.
"After I came out from a camp. Probably by the first game I was a little more comfortable, but as the season progressed it felt a little bit better each time."
Kicking can be a mental game, but Kayla says she tries to calm herself with some simple thoughts as she runs onto the field after one of Middletown's numerous touchdowns.
"To relax, and breathe. It really doesn't mean the world, it will go on tomorrow if I miss one."
That's a nice thought, but Kayla says achieving mental nirvana doesn't always happen.
"Man, sometimes I can't even do it now. Sometimes it's very hard, but I try my best to do it every single time, but I try my best to do it every single time, but sometimes it's a little tougher than others."
Trying a new sport can be difficult, and that's part of the reason Kayla is looking forward to the meet-and-greet next week. She wants to pass along one key message to young athletes in the Middletown area.
"Just to go out there and do what you want. It's better to say that you tried and you failed, than to say 'what if?"
Bierlein will join No. 1 Middletown as they travel to face IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on Saturday. IMG is ranked No. 3 in the country in the USA Today Super 25 poll.
Win or lose, Bierlein said she's noticed a growing pool of young fans coming up to her after games.
"Yes I have (noticed them), and it makes my heart very happy."
Kayla Bierlein hopes they eventually become inspirational athletes in their own respect.