Lauren Silberman boots the ball during kicker tryouts at the NFL football regional combine workout Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Florham Park, N.J.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (USA TODAY) - Katie Hnida wonders if Lauren Silberman and the NFL have done damage to the dreams of female athletes.
was one of 38 kickers to take part in the league's New York/New Jersey
regional scouting combine at the New York Jets' facility. She was the
only woman, the first female participant in an NFL-sponsored tryout, and
was hoping to prove her kicks could stand up to the booming 55-yard
field goals some of the men were making.
CUT SHORT: Silberman's bid ends after two kicks
kicked only twice. They were two kickoffs for a total of 30 yards. Only
one crossed the midfield stripe - by a yard. After that, her day was
over because she said she aggravated a quad injury she suffered in
practice last week.
The way Hnida saw it, those practice sessions couldn't have been that intense.
performance does not have to do with her gender. It has to do with her
experience and her preparation," Hnida, a former kicker for Colorado and
New Mexico and the first woman to score a point in a Division 1
football game, told USA TODAY Sports by phone. "Unfortunately, what's
going to happen now is she's going to be looked at (as inferior) because
she was female.
"But she was terrible."
Hnida knows because she saw a clip of Silberman's kicks.
"I saw the video," Hnida said with a sigh. "I saw the video."
Hnida didn't see was the 20-second period before the kick in which
Silberman couldn't figure out how to stand the ball on the tee without
it falling. Hnida fell silent on the other end of the phone when told
Hnida, who is battling back from a blood clot that's put her
Arena League career on hold, also didn't see the awkward nine steps
backward and five steps sideways as Silberman lined up 6 yards behind
the ball instead of the standard approach of 10 or more yards.
kickers who tried out along with Silberman Sunday said the former MIT
student asked a few of them how to approach the ball on the kick. The
kickers spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because they
didn't want to hurt their chances of getting another tryout with a
Silberman's technique, as Hnida noted, was terrible.
took no warm-up kicks Sunday, saying she was nursing her injury - an
injury combine officials said they had no idea she'd suffered. But even
as she jogged awkwardly toward an empty tee, it was clear her kicks were
going to be dreadful - quad pull or no quad pull.
"I also find it
curious she didn't warm up. You never go in kicking cold," Hnida said.
"There's a reason why the kickers are the first people out there. It
takes us a while to warm up."
Though the league reserves the right
to deny a registration, it apparently made no attempt to determine
whether Silberman had a chance to put forth a good effort. Now, other
young women likely will have an even tougher path to gender equality on
the football field.
"It is disappointing," Hnida said. "I hoped
she would go out and do justice for an NFL tryout, because there are
lots of people who have dreamed of going to the NFL. It should be