STV webFCA Network Web

The Conner High School band strikes up the fight song and the Cougars take the field. You can’t put your finger on it immediately, but something looks a bit out of the ordinary for a Friday night game in Kentucky.

And then it hits you. In the sea of blue and white jerseys, a long, blonde ponytail spills out from under a soon-to-be sweaty football helmet as its owner jogs to the sideline. It swings left to right across the number 84, and you immediately assume it’s one of the boys who thought having Troy Polamalu’s hairstyle would make him more manly. But then someone sitting close to you mentions that the feminine locks belong to 17-year-old Olivia Brock, the Cougars first-string kicker and the young woman whose extra point accuracy has shifted the phrase “You kick like a girl” from insult to compliment.

Olivia’s choice to join the football team was not a bid for gender equality but an effort to make a name for herself as an athlete.
“She’s not on the team to kick because she’s a girl,” says her mother, Rita Brock. “She’s there because she likes to kick, and she can. She was good at it right from the start. My thought is, if you have a talent at kicking and you enjoy it, then do it.”

Consistently splitting the uprights at about 40 yards, Olivia isn’t short on talent—character, either. After sitting out all of last season with a torn ACL, Olivia battled back and won the starting position as the extra-point kicker for her varsity team this year.

However, the 5-7 senior is host to many talents outside of kicking the pigskin. Olivia is known for her singing voice, which she lends to the chamber choir and numerous local charity and church events. She even sang the National Anthem in full football attire when the scheduled singer didn’t show for one of the Cougars’ games.

FYI: Olivia Brock

  • She has three older brothers but was the only sibling to letter in football.
  • She tried out for American Idol last season.
  • She first sang “The Star Spangled Banner” when she was 8 years old. It was at one of Pelfrey’s Kicks for Kids events.
  • She has served in an FCA leadership position all four years of high school.
  • She took a hit during her first kick in a game her freshman year, and it popped her hip out of place.
But truthfully, her first love is soccer. A member of the varsity soccer team since her freshman year, Olivia is now the starting midfielder and team’s co-captain. She’s been playing since age 6 and only considered football in eighth grade because of her soccer skills. Two of her soccer teammates had tried kicking for the football team, and they suggested Olivia do the same. A few days later, ignoring her nerves, she took a shot at placekicking during the freshman football practice. Wearing soccer cleats, Olivia made a lasting impression in her first attempt.

“Coach Putthoff said I was a natural and that he wanted me to come back,” she modestly explains.

Not everyone was initially supportive of a female being “one of the boys.” Several parents expressed concern, and even Olivia’s dad had a few reservations. “It’s not for girls,” he told his wife. Others worried it was just a phase and that she wasn’t serious about her position on the team.

But over time, Olivia’s strict commitment proved them wrong. She attended daily soccer and football practices, which sometimes totaled four and a half hours. She even showed up to optional conditioning sessions with the football team. By the end of her first year, she had gained the deference of both the community and her teammates by kicking better than any freshman player.

“She is a good athlete, dedicated and hard-working,” says the kicking coach, Mike Putthoff. “All the boys have a lot of respect for her. We don’t have any problems.”

During the last few seasons, Olivia has sharpened her skills by taking personal lessons from family friend Doug Pelfrey, former placekicker for the Cincinnati Bengals. He, too, recognizes her raw talent and potential.

“She literally kicks it dead straight every single time,” says Pelfrey, who met the Brocks through the Northern Kentucky FCA. “The only time she misses is when she tries to kick with the same leg strength as the boys. [But compared to] guys, girls or anybody, she is accurate. Everything is just straight. She kicks it right down the middle.”

Putthoff agrees. “I have been coaching kickers for almost 18 years, and I would say she is one of the most accurate,” he says. “She makes one after another.”

Based on her precision, you wouldn’t assume that Olivia feels any need to prove herself. But she does admit to a few well-hidden fears.

“If I miss, I will lose a point for the team, and they might hold it against me twice as bad because I’m not a guy,” she confesses. “And it is so fast-paced on the field. I run out there, put my block down, tell the holder to look, make sure he checks that I’m good to go, kick, look up to see if someone is coming and still try to remember all my fundamentals. It is like a million things rush through my head at once.”

“I try to make sure that I am never doing anything I would need to think twice about. I know that somebody is always watching, so I just want to be careful, to not be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
                - Olivia Brock
But according to Olivia, those fears often have a positive effect. The rush of adrenaline pushes her, and provides a certain therapy and relaxation—perhaps the result of her faith in Christ.

Despite hours of practices, games and personal training, Olivia prioritizes her faith, attending FCA Huddle meetings, which have become second-nature for her.

“I have been involved in FCA since I can remember,” says Olivia, who also serves as the Huddle’s co-captain. “I was 7 years old when I first started going to the high school Huddle because my mom helped start it and was an adult leader. FCA always has been an inspiration for me. I have met some good role models. It has helped me grow in my faith, because I wanted to be like those people.”

“FCA is kind of in her DNA,” adds J.T. Schultz, Northern Kentucky FCA Area Director. “Olivia is one of those kids who uses FCA to keep her going in the right direction.”

The examples set through FCA by Pelfrey and Seattle Seahawk Shaun Alexander, who is from the area and attended FCA with Olivia’s older brother, have inspired Olivia to be a role model herself—to remain above reproach, especially when facing the challenges of being on an all-boy team. While traveling to away games, she chooses to sit in the front of the bus with the coaches, and she always requests a separate locker room.

“I try to make sure that I am never doing anything I would need to think twice about. I know that somebody is always watching, so I just want to be careful, to not be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Her moral stance has proven invaluable as young girls on the sidelines often fix their eyes on Olivia and request autographs after games.
“She enjoys kicking and wants to do it and be a Christian role model,” says Rita Brock, who serves as both Conner’s FCA Huddle Coach and a member of the Northern Kentucky board.

“It’s been important to set a good example for other girls,” adds Olivia. “I really like the feeling of having someone look up to me. I hope they can see that they can do anything they put their minds
to, that hard work goes a long way, and that having a good family and foundation in Christ can get you through anything.”


FCA holds a special place in the heart of former Cincinnati Bengal Doug Pelfrey.

It was through the University of Kentucky Huddle that Pelfrey surrendered his life fully to Christ at the age of 20. Then, while with the Bengals, Pelfrey helped to establish FCA in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. Being a professional athlete, Pelfrey added credibility and recognition to the ministry through speaking engagements and the development of a local board. He continues to serve FCA by donating office space to the staff and by lending his time to area Huddles. Pelfrey also works with his own charity, Kicks for Kids (, which gives unique opportunities to underprivileged and disabled children.

*For more stories about faith and sport, visit, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. 

Courtesy of the Cincinnati Bengals

Copyright 2007 Sharing the Victory Magazine

A member of the webFCA Network of Sites
A Vertical Symmetry Powered Network