That's one of many feelings that Chartiers Valley High School senior Kristina Coyne said were evoked during her three years as place-kicker with the boys varsity football team, the Colts.
Her mother, Pauline Beattie, and football coach Chris Saluga, who work together in the English department at the high school, often joked about Kristina -- a soccer player -- filling in when the need for a place-kicker arose.
The friendly bantering turned serious when Mr. Saluga suggested Kristina try out for the position.
Mrs. Beattie pitched the idea to her daughter whose immediate reaction was disbelief.
"I laughed in her face," Kristina, 17, recalled. "I was, like, this has to be a joke."
After realizing her mother was serious, she decided to give it a whirl.
"I've got a leg and I can kick pretty far," she said. "It was just a matter of whether I could transfer it to kicking a football instead of kicking a soccer ball."
The day before tryouts, Joe Ragni, Kristina's boyfriend and a linebacker for the Colts, took her to a practice field with a ball and a tee and told her to try it. Her first kick launched the ball 35 yards down the field.
It was a repeat performance the next day at the first of four tryouts.
"I was in front of 90 high school boys, most of whom were older than me, so I was really nervous," she said. "I was taking it seriously."
At the end of tryouts, Kristina said she was surprised and excited that she made the team, but knew she still had a lot to learn about kicking a football. That's when kicking coach Robbie Butts stepped in. Kristina said the coach taught her everything she knows.
"It took a lot of practice and nitpicking and having to change this and change that," she said. "It's a completely different style than soccer, but once you get the hang of it, it's just like riding a bike."
While the ultimate pressure rested on her to make the kick, Kristina said a three-person team was involved and having really good holders and snappers contributed to her success on the field.
"If the snap's off and the holder can't correct it, then the kick is not going to be good," she said. "We've all got to be on the same page and if we're not, then there is no success."
Such camaraderie and teamwork was present among her other teammates as well. Kristina said the team members were surprisingly cool about her being on the team and were supportive of her, even when she would miss a kick.
Students jumped on board as well and showed their support by wearing T-shirts with her lucky number 13 on them to school and to games.
Although opposing teams sometimes harassed her on the field, Kristina said the teasing for the most part was funny except for an incident during one of the games.
"They were just trying to hit me because I was a girl and that was just mean," she said.
During the game, Kristina was purposefully tackled so hard by one player that she had to be carried off the field. She was embarrassed, she said, and her teammates were angry with the player.
"It was bad. They all were going after him the entire game," she said. "This poor kid. He had no chance."
Kristina said she her teammates generally treated her as an equal, but this was one of the times when they were very protective of her.
"They didn't treat me like I was a girl, but when those kinds of things happened, they treated me like I was a girl and that was kind of cool," she said.
At 5-foot-11, Kristina said she wasn't afraid of being tackled.
"I've gotten tackled in games before and it's not like the world was over," she said. "I can take the contact. That was never a worry for me."
Instead, she said, her biggest fear was one that probably grips most kickers -- missing.
She didn't need to worry about that very often during her tenure with the team. This past season, she had only three missed kicks and experienced the highlight of her career.
During a home game Sept. 7 against the Hopewell Vikings that went into overtime, Kristina kicked the extra point that won the game.
"I've never been so nervous in my life, but that was the best moment ever when I saw it going through," she said. "It's a moment I'll never forget for the rest of my life."
Afterward, her teammates carried her on their shoulders while cheering her name. The stands were filled that night with students who had come out for the home game, and they were cheering wildly for her as well.
"It was amazing. There are no words to describe it," she said.
Kristina also played basketball, volleyball and soccer and ran track. She often juggled two sports at a time when their seasons overlapped, all the while maintaining good grades.
"That was torture," she said. "It was hard work. It was a lot of mental toughness as well as physical toughness."
The hard work paid off. She recently received an academic scholarship to Eastern Michigan University, where she will major in criminology or early childhood education and run track next fall.
As she hangs up her helmet and cleats and prepares for the next chapter of her life, Kristina said it has been a bittersweet goodbye to her time with the Colts.
"I cried so much my last game. I'm going to miss it so much. There's nothing like being out on that field with those guys," she said. "It's going to be really hard to get away from it. I'm speechless."
Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.