Wednesday, December 12, 2001
Hatas hope:Darci Hata has a simple dream for her high school football career -- to hit someone.
to hit someone
The Pac-Five kicker proves to be
one of the best in the ILH
By Jason Kaneshiro
"My goal is to try to let them play me and let me see if I can hit somebody or get hit or anything," Hata said.
Hata, listed as a 5-foot-3 and 127-pound kicker on the Pac-Five football roster, was shielded from contact by the Wolfpack coaches this season. But she's making up for it as a member of the Pac-Five girls wrestling team.
Hata qualified for the state wrestling championships in the 114-pound weight class last year and helped lead the Wolfpack to a share of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu girls title.
But it was her work on the football field this fall that really got her noticed.
The Maryknoll sophomore is the first female to be named an ILH football all-star. She was a second-team selection after converting 15 of 17 extra points and hitting her only field goal attempt of the season, a 27-yarder against St. Louis on Oct. 20.
"She did a great job for us," Pac-Five coach Don Botelho said. "She's very accurate, very consistent. I think as the years go by, her leg will get stronger and stronger and she'll be a weapon for us as a field goal kicker."
Hata is the second Hawaii girl to be named to a football all-star team. Former Kalaheo kicker Jessica Kisor was named to the Oahu Interscholastic Association Blue Conference first-team in 1997.
But unlike Kisor, who used football as a springboard into soccer season, Hata is spending the winter indoors.
"It's just one of those things I wanted to try," Hata said of her decision to go out for the wrestling team two years ago. "The reason I come back is because the people are so nice and it's like a family."
Soccer is actually Hata's first love as she has been playing the game since she was 5. But she was told she had to pick between soccer and wrestling this year since both sports are played in the same season.
"I chose wrestling because I can't do it anywhere else," she said. "And I have club soccer to go back to."
Her soccer background prepared Hata for her role as the football team's kicker. But she wasn't thinking about booting field goals when she joined the Pac-Five intermediate team last year.
Hata tried out for the squad on a whim, without much knowledge of the sport, but willing to try anything.
"I just went out to play and see what I could do," she said. "I knew my best chance would be kicking, but I didn't know anything else about football.
"At first I didn't even know what I was trying out to be. I just went and tried to kick because I didn't know anything else. I was punting at first, but they told me to try to kick a field goal."
Hata won over skeptical Wolfpack coaches with her accuracy and was soon handling the team's place-kicking duties.
"Darci's a kicker, we don't look at her as female or male," Botelho said. "She practices daily, she works very hard. After her kicking workout she goes to the weight room and works on her strength.
"She fits right in, she's not a distraction. She's on the team and you don't notice her. That's the great part of it, having a female on a football team and you can't tell the difference. ... The kids don't look at her as a female, they look at her as a football player.
"It's not a token thing. She's the best kicker we've got in the program."
Botelho said Hata is accurate from 30 yards in, and drilled 40-yarders in practice. But game situations didn't allow him to send Hata out for a longer field goal this season.
It took a while for Hata to get comfortable kicking under game conditions. She made her first varsity kick in a preseason game against Farrington at Aloha Stadium and admits to being intimidated by the beefy Governors bearing down on her.
"That was the scariest part," she said. "I was shaking on the field."
Still, Hata hopes to one day have the opportunity to make a tackle for the Wolfpack.
"I wished they'd let me do kickoffs, but they don't trust me on the field," Hata said. "They're like, 'Nope, we don't want you to get hit.' "
Hata did get a chance to mix it up in an intermediate game last year when the Wolfpack's regular kickoff specialist got hurt, forcing the coaches to put Hata in on the coverage team.
"They told me to run off the field (right after the kickoff), but I decided to stay on the field," she said. "I didn't know what I was doing, trying to hit somebody and I got hit. It was a cool experience though."
After wrestling season is over, Hata said she will probably go out for the judo team. But she'll concentrate on football and soccer when the summer rolls around.
Hata hopes to attend a football kicking camp this summer and is looking forward to preparing for next football season.
"At first I didn't really care about football that much, but now I love watching it and love playing it," she said. "And you respect football players more."
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