The Times West Virginian

Sports

July 16, 2014

Buonamici hopes to follow in Knight's footsteps

FAIRMONT — “I’ve got to end it on a make,” Taylor Buonamici said after the ball she kicked narrowly missed the uprights at Duvall-Rosier Field.

She placed the football back onto the tee, sized up the yellow field goal posts, took a deep breath and began her trek.

Three steps back, two steps to the right.

The journey to the spot where she was supposed to be lined up had to have been engrained in the 12-year-old’s mind after kicking what must have seemed like 1,000 field goal attempts. But nonetheless, Buonamici rolled her shoulders back, took three steps and swiftly booted the ball between the posts, causing anyone who was watching to hold their hands up in satisfaction, bringing Buonamici’s smile from ear to ear.

A multi-sport athlete for Mannington Middle, Buonamici has a goal of one day kicking field goals for the North Marion Huskies, and Monday was her first time kicking between the uprights.

An avid football fan, Buonamici witnessed West Virginia high school history last season, seeing Lincoln’s placekicker Emily Knight become the first female in the state to be a first-team All-State selection.

“It looked fun,” Buonamici said.

Her mother being a football fan as well, possessing an arm that could have likely put many quarterbacks to shame in her day, has full faith that her daughter will one day be booting field goals for their hometown Huskies.

“We weren’t even planning on her playing, but we were just going to kick it around a little bit until high school and let Brent (Osborne) help her,” Taylor’s mother, Lydia, said. “But (North Marion) Coach (Daran) Hays sent her travel basketball coach a letter and said he wanted her to play now.”

So she’s got the head coaches’ attention already. But it doesn’t stop there.

Enlisting the help of a former North Marion kicker, Buonamici is well on her way to becoming the second female kicker to garner All-State recognition.

One day at a basketball game where his sisters were playing with Buonamici, Brent Osborne, a 2012 North Marion graduate, was part of a conversation about Buonamici wanting to kick. Being the one-time kicker that he was, Osborne decided he’d help out.

“We were sitting at a basketball game one day and I said, ‘Hey, Brent. Taylor said she wants to learn how to kick,’” Lydia said.

“I happen to be around and I saw it on Facebook,” Osborne said, admitting he wanted to be part of the learning process.

During his time at North Marion, Osborne was helped along by Rusty Elliott, someone he credited for building his kicking competence. Now, Osborne can pass his knowledge along to Buonamici.

At one time during her kicking, Osborne had Buonamici turn around and look through the many Fairmont State players who were on the field working out to the field goal post on the opposite side of the field.

“I told her to turn around and look at that field goal post and I said, ‘You could be kicking to that one,’” Osborne said. “And she looked at me and said, ‘This isn’t that far.’ That’s what they used to tell me.”

Not longer after, Buonamici had booted another field goal through the posts.

It makes sense that the young girl would want to be a kicker.

You see, kickers tend to be the ones on the team who sit back and let the quarterbacks and running backs handle the press, answering the tough questions about the game.

If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting her, you’d know that Buonamici is a quiet young lady. But what she may lack when it comes to letting her voice be heard, she makes up for in her athletic ability.

“She has a big opportunity to do some big things. She’s a natural athlete,” Osborne said. “She can adapt to anything. She’s very likely to succeed in this.”

After playing basketball and softball, Buonamici will play for the Husky Pups this fall in hopes of reaching her goal in two years when she’ll be a high school freshman.

Just a few weeks ago, however, there had been no decision as to whether or not she’d play football this fall. But after getting a football in her hands and trying her hand at kicking, she’s sold on the idea.

In the end, Buonamici hopes to use the motivation and encouragement from her friends and family, many of whom gathered Monday night to witness her kick for the first time, making a 20-yard field goal during the span of a few hours.

And it, too, makes sense that just a few small words would fuel a young girl’s desire to be a kicker, her father saying it best, according to her mother, when he said, “You go, girl.”

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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