Wednesday, October 11
Ex-coach says he admired kicker's 'spunk'



GREENSBORO, N.C. -- An all-conference kicker at Duke testified Wednesday that Heather Sue Mercer was not as good a kicker as others on the football team.

Asked to rank her leg strength, Sims Lenhardt told jurors: "It was inferior to other guys out there. I would say 35 yards was probably the most she could kick."

Lenhardt made seven of eight fields between 40 and 49 yards in 1997 and one from 50 yards. In 1996, he made four of six field goals longer than 50 yards.

Mercer, a walk-on player, is suing Duke, contending she was cut from the football team in 1996 because of her gender.

Duke says Mercer could have stayed with the Blue Devils if she had been physically able to be play on the scout team. The scout team plays the first-string team in practice.

Jim Mills, another walk-on kicker, testified that he never got a chance to play in a game. However, he stayed with the Blue Devils for four years, in part, because he was on the scout team.

As a scout team member, Mills had to play other positions. He recalled the first-team defensive line blocking his punts.

"You can imagine them coming at you, out of control," he said.

The kickers' testimony followed that of former coach Fred Goldsmith. He said Tuesday that he cut Mercer because she wasn't good enough.

"She was evaluated like a man would have been," he said. "I decided to judge her like a man who was not making a contribution to the team."

Mercer testified last week that Goldsmith told her she should give up kicking footballs and perhaps give beauty pageants a try.

On the stand Tuesday, Goldsmith said he couldn't recall making that statement. He acknowledged saying Mercer was "pretty" when asked by reporters to describe her looks.

Even though Mercer was unimpressive in her kicking tryout as a freshman walk-on in the fall of 1994, Goldsmith said he admired her for her spunk.

"It was obvious she was trying to do something special," Goldsmith testified. "I probably would have been a lot more brutal with a male. I would have said, 'Sorry son, you just don't have it.' "

After her 20-minute tryout, Goldsmith said he offered Mercer the chance to be a manager, which would give her a chance to practice kicking. He said he thought Mercer was better than her tryout indicated, especially since she was a starting kicker on a high school team that won a New York state championship.

One reason he allowed her to try out for the team, he said, was because one of his own daughters played on a boy's Little League baseball team.

Goldsmith now sells real estate and works as a broadcaster in North Carolina.




ALSO SEE
Duke lawsuit: Female kicker's abilities questioned






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