Marcos de Niza kicker more than just a girl playing football

After growing up around the sport, Marcos de Niza kicker Krysten Muir decided she wanted to play football herself, making the varsity team last year. (Photo by Michael Boylan/Cronkite News)

TEMPE – It may sound cliche at this point for anyone who knows Krysten Muir, but that doesn’t make the sentiment by her mother Kathy any less true.

“She’s not your typical 17-year-old girl,” Kathy Muir said.

That should be obvious to anyone who has watched a game featuring Marcos de Niza High’s varsity football team, where Krysten Muir is the Padres senior kicker.

However, it’s not just the fact that she’s playing a male-dominated sport that makes Muir noteworthy. It’s her work ethic and how much time she puts in trying to get better.

Her father, Jeremy Muir, an assistant coach at Marcos de Niza, said her work isn’t limited to just practice.

“She works before, after, during,” he said. “She puts in a lot of extra work. She works when she goes on vacation, to be prepared for it. It’s constant.”

It may seem like overkill for some, but it’s all part of her constant attempt to improve.

“I know I’m too hard on myself sometimes,” Muir said. “But I just want to go ahead and get better.”

Muir finished last season making 58 of 63 extra point attempts and 3 of 5 field goals. This season she has made 33 of 42 extra points and 2 of 5 field goals. Her longest made field goal was 28 yards.

So how did Muir decide that football was what she wanted to do? Well, just look to the coach on the team with the same last name. In his 20 years of coaching, Jeremy Muir said that Krysten has always been by his side.

“When she was 4, she started out as a water girl,” he said. “She’d come out to practice and blow the whistle.”

“I just thought it would be fun,” Muir said. “I’ve always been with my dad on the sidelines.”

But having her dad as one of her coaches doesn’t mean that she gets any special treatment.

“He treats her as one of the guys,” Kathy Muir said. “He’s told her from the very beginning, ‘If you want to come out and do this, you know I’m not going easy on you. You’re going to be treated just like I treat all the boys.’ ”

“I addressed it when she first decided she wanted to come out,” Jeremy Muir said. “You’re not going to get the job just because you’re my kid. You’ve got to earn it and you’ve got to make them respect you.”

For Muir, there are mixed emotions about having her dad out there, though she does seem to enjoy it.

“It’s good. Sometimes it’s really annoying,” she said. “But he helps me out a lot, so it kind of brings us closer.”

As for support outside her family, Muir said that though some involved with the team weren’t sold on her at first, she now has the respect and backing of her teammates and people around the team.

“At first, it was kind of hard for people to take in and they thought I was just out there to be cute,” she said. “But now I have a lot of supporters, so it’s great.”

Her dad said any problems she has now come from people who aren’t associated with the team.

“People that have been involved with the team know that she’s just as committed, if not more than other people on the team,” Jeremy Muir said. “Trash talking and all that usually is from outside coming in.”

Muir is not afraid to stand up for herself either. In a game against Bradshaw Mountain in September, she said she got into it with an opposing player.

“The guy hit me twice and the first time I thought he slipped and hit me so I was like, ‘Oh, are you OK?’ and he just bumps into me,” she said. “The second time he actually went for my knees and I actually went down, so I went up to him and I was like, ‘You need to back off.’ ”

Though she almost got ejected from the game because of that incident, and she said didn’t think she would do anything like that again, Krysten felt at the time that she needed to do something.

“That was also kind of like a message, like ‘I will fight back,’ ” she said.

Muir’s next step is to decide what she’ll do once she graduates. If she has her way, she will try to play at the next level.

“I’m hard working and I’ll keep going for what I want to do,” Krysten said. “I won’t let anybody push me down or anything because I’ll show them that I can do it. And I’ll get right back up.”

Her parents both said that they support whatever decision she makes, and if that means trying to play football at the next level, they both know she has the drive to do it.

“If she continues, she can go far,” Kathy Muir said. “I always tell her, ‘Whatever you set your mind and heart to, follow through and you will achieve anything you want in life.’ ”

“Because of her work ethic, she’ll be able to do just about anything she sets her mind to,” Jeremy Muir said.