Marco de Niza senior Krysten Muir earned it like everybody else.
Two years in a row, she outplayed the competition to win the placekicking job on the varsity football team. As a junior, she scored 67 points and set the state record for the most points scored by a girl for a football season, then added 49 more points as a senior.
She’ll point out her father, Marcos de Niza defensive line coach Jeremy Muir, didn’t hand her the job. Krysten has overcome the teasing and the need for barrier breaking to become just another teammate.
“When I first started, I was actually super scared,” she said.
It didn’t take long for Muir to gain her teammates’ trust.
“You just have to keep pushing,” she said. “You have to get past that little barrier.”
But while Muir sees herself as an accomplished football player — she also has been captain of the varsity soccer team — being the rare girl on the football field has made her much more, even if she won’t admit it.
Muir’s presence on Instagram and Twitter isn’t uncommon for a high school student, but her social media voice is unique compared to others her age. Young girls seeking advice have reached out over social media, and Muir has become a role model to talk them through overcoming obstacles — often times similar to her own.
“They’ve asked me advice and if they should go out and do it,” Muir said.
One younger kicker even told Muir that a message sent to her before a tryout helped her overcome the fears — and tears.
Muir sometimes wonders “why me?” when she receives a message from a girl hoping to kick. But she always realizes her role in supporting a growing trend of girls taking to the football field. Karli Koskovich at Cactus Shadows, Becca Longo at Basha and Trinity Kaufman at Perry High School are several other girls playing football in the Valley.
Muir was once looking up to an older football player herself. Before her family moved to Arizona, Muir stood on the sidelines as her father coached Las Vegas’ Arbor View High School. She remembers the gold cleats and long ponytail of kicker McKenzie Karas, who is now a soccer player for the Washington Huskies.
That motivation to follow in Karas’ footsteps has earned Muir recognition as All-Region Second Team kicker in the 4A Desert Sky region. She’s been featured on ESPN’s Sportscenter, AZ Family Women of Phoenix, USA Today’s “I Am Sport”, and been honored by the Tempe Union High School District and presented at an Arizona School Board Association’s equity event.
Muir credits her kicking coach, Tyler Bennett, and parents, Jeremy and Kathy, for keeping her humble and challenging her to chase her ambitions.
“I can’t let guys or girls bring me down,” Muir said. “I just got to keep doing what I want to do and not let anyone beat me at it.”
Now, she is embracing the power of her voice, using the #ThisGirlCan hashtag on her social media posts and making sure to respond to anyone who reaches out looking for advice or support.
When Muir has time away from school, a rarity, she enjoys horse riding competitions — she’s earned more than 26 ribbons and is two-time reserved champion — and has spent time at the Desert Palms Equestrian Center volunteering and assisting with riding lessons.
She’d like to go to college and continue kicking on a football team or playing on a soccer team.
Regardless if the path she chooses, she will continue acting as a positive supporter of girls following her lead.
“I try to be that person in their corner letting them know they can do that sport or join that club, as long as you give it 100 percent at the end of the day, that is what really counts — try not to listen to the negative comments, it’s easier said than done, but we really shouldn’t let someone else’s negativity affect what we really want to achieve,” she said.