Friday Night Frenzy: Mason’s kicker, Natalia Pluff

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 7:08 PM EDT
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MASON, Mich. (WILX) - The bulldogs have a special group playing football this year, and one player in particular stands out.

On most football teams it’s the quarterbacks, the wide receivers or the running backs who get all the glory. But at Mason High School, the kicker does too.

Any prospective football player with talent wants to have a chance to play on the high school football team. But what if you have that same desire and you’re a girl?

Say hello to Natalia Pluff, Mason’s placekicker.

“It started from coach Houghton reaching out to me in the weight room and him asking if I wanted to be part of the team,” Pluff said.

Gary Houghton needed a kicker, so he reached out to Natalia when she was a sophomore.

“I didn’t think someone like me; I was still pretty lazy, unproductive, pretty not where I am today,” Pluff said. “I never thought he would ask me.”

She had played soccer for 10 years prior. That was her sport. Transitioning to football as a kicker made sense to Pluff in theory, but it wasn’t as easy as she thought.

“He’s telling me all these things I need to do, and I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to be really self-taught about this. But we’re going to keep trying.’” Houghton knew she would blend in just fine.

“She comes into the weight room every day and outworks some of these guys. She’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached,” Houghton said. “She might not win every race, she might not win every competition, but she will never quit. She is extremely tough.”

This isn’t something that just fell in Natalia’s lap, she worked hard to get where she’s at. Starting on the fields at the junior varsity level, learning to deal with failure and working toward success.

“I had no confidence in myself,” Pluff said. “I was on rock bottom with my mental state. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I felt like, ‘Why am I even here?’ Someone is definitely a lot better because I’m just a girl.’”

But something kept her going. Two years later she’s, earned her spot as the starting kicker.

She’s achieving her goals and working toward her dream. And, by the way, her dream got bigger. Pluff said she’d like to eventually kick at the college level.

“I like to be that person who is set from apart from the rest. Like I’m the different one. I like people looking up to me,” Pluff said. “It’s that feeling of people aspiring to be someone. Seeing all the college football female players and the coaches. If I could be that one day, that’d be a dream come true.”

Pluff is, of course, an all-round athlete. She does track and field too, placing eighth in the state in the discus event just this last spring.

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