ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. Football tryouts at New Mexico have a different look this summer. One candidate for the kicker's job has a blonde ponytail and wears makeup.
Katie Hnida, a 5-foot-9, 151-pound walk-on, took the field Thursday alongside the men at practice for newcomers. She played high school varsity football for three years in Littleton, Colo., and suited up for games in college at Colorado.
"I love kicking," the 21-year-old junior said after afternoon practice. "I love the sport of football. I know this is something I can do."
Hnida stopped to wipe away smeared eye makeup and joked that she better be the only person on the field doing that.
Hnida played soccer when she was younger. She was kicking a football one day when someone mentioned that the high school team needed a kicker.
At Chatfield High School, Hnida converted four of five field goal attempts and made 83 of 87 conversion tries. Her longest field goal was 35 yards.
Hnida dressed out for the 1999 season with Colorado, becoming only the second woman to do so for an NCAA Division I-A football game, according to the Lobos' athletic department.
She never played and was released the next year because of illness and a change in coaching. She took a couple of years off.
New Mexico was one of many schools that received football highlight tapes from Hnida earlier this year. After reviewing them, Lobos special teams coordinator Jeff Conway invited her for a visit. Coach Rocky Long invited Hnida to walk-on.
"We're looking for kickers and punters," Long said. "She looked like she had good enough ability to compete. We had no idea she was a girl when we watched the tape."
Long made it clear that Hnida would be treated like every other potential player.