Gervais finds success playing for Polar Bears
By Greg Seubert
McKenna Gervais is taking her love for football to another level.
“I’ve gone to Badger games, Packer games,” the Hortonville High School senior said on Sept. 27.
She had been watching the Polar Bears improve to 5-1 on the season with a 46-29 win over Oshkosh West at Wolf River Community Bank Stadium.
Instead of watching the game from the bleachers, however, Gervais was right in the middle of the action as the team’s kicker.
She made all five of her extra point kicks and added a 20-yard field goal, her first of the season.
“My parents have had season tickets to the Badgers since I was a baby and I’ve gone to half the games since then,” Gervais said. “That definitely made the transition to football easy. I already loved the game and knew every rule.”
Gervais, who started playing soccer at age 4, has left her mark on the program since joining the team two years ago as a sophomore.
A background in soccer led to her being asked if she’d be interested in trying out for the team after another kicker injured his ankle.
“I drove to a random field that has goal posts and hit a 40-yard field goal the first time I ever kicked,” Gervais said. “I ended up in a tryout two days later and I did enough to earn a spot on the team.”
She made 32 of 40 extra points and all three of her field goals last season. This year, she has made 29 of 31 extra points.
Gervais learned to kick playing soccer.
“I’ve played soccer since I was 4 years old,” she said. “I know how to kick a ball and I’ve always had a strong leg. I’d say this is the first year where I first started changing how I kick the ball from a soccer-style kick to a football-style kick.”
Gervais is used to being the only girl on the team.
“I walked in the first day and I remember there was only one guy that would talk to me,” she said. “The rest of them were like, ‘What is going on?’ Me, I didn’t even know what was going on. Now, I’m best friends with all of them.”
Gervais finds time to combine football with soccer, which she plays in the spring on Hortonville’s girls’ team and year-round on a club team.
“On Thursdays, I go from school to football practice to soccer practice,” she said.
The Polar Bears are well on their way to qualifying for the upcoming WIAA playoffs for the ninth time since 2010.
Gervais kicked four extra points in the Polar Bears’ only playoff game last year, a 41-28 loss to Menasha.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “It’s so awesome to play for a program that has the potential to be so good.”
Gervais knows that her football career will end once the Polar Bears’ season is over.
“It’s sad because it’s become such a big part of my life,” she said. “It’s made my high school experience much more fun. I feel like I’ve gained confidence in myself.”
She also couldn’t imagine life without football.
“I’m huge on school spirit,” she said. “I’d be there cheering, but it’s much more fun being right on the sideline.”