Kicker is the arguably most pressure-packed position in football, and for Mandan’s Sarah Burgum that pressure is a privilege, as she lives up to the expectations as the Braves’ next great female kicker.
“I just kind of remembered playing punt, pass and kick and I was like, ‘Let’s give it a try,'” Burgum explained. “So I started my junior year just because I wanted to do it. Thought it’d be fun.”
Burgum is the third female kicker in the last five years to suit up for the Braves football team. The ones that paved the way helped encourage her to jump from soccer to football.
“Olivia Geiger was Mandan’s kicker and I played soccer with her for a few years, and I kind of talked with her about it and she was like, ‘Yeah give it a try!'” Burgum said. “So I decided I’d do it too. It helped me gain some confidence and gave me a little bit of security knowing that she did it, so might as well.”
The second-team all-state soccer player has made a smooth switch to the football field. She’s leading the WDA with two field goals made this season, and she’s converted double-digit extra-point attempts.
“Playing soccer definitely helps with kicking distance-wise and getting that form down, so it definitely helps,” the senior kicker said.
Burgum’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Usually when I get here at 3:30 she’s waiting to walk in the door,” Mandan’s head football coach Todd Sheldon said. “She starts with her warm-up activities and she starts with her kicking well before most of the kids are out on the field. And if something doesn’t go well during that course of the special teams practice she’s coming off to the side to work on it on her own.”
That approach is separating Burgum as one of the best kickers in the state regardless of gender.
“I’d say just do it,” Burgum said her message is to other girls. “Be confident in yourself and just go for it. Do what you want to do.”
Burgum hopes that message inspires the next generation one kick at a time.