Once a feel-good story, Abby Vestal's foray into professional football has become shrouded in mystery.
The Topeka-based Kansas Koyotes signed the former Lawrence High kicker on April 18, making her the first full-time female player in the American Professional Football League. Although Vestal continues to practice with the team, the coaching staff placed her on the inactive list, and she did not travel to Texas for the June 23rd game against the Conroe Storm.
"It's very frustrating," Vestal said. "It's kind of confusing what's really going on."
More disturbing is the fact that Vestal said she had not received payment from the team. Koyotes owner Ralph Adams, however, disputed that his team or the league is in financial peril.
"All the payroll checks have been delivered," he said.
The Koyotes originally planned to have Vestal, the first female kicker in LHS history, serve as a field-goal and extra-point specialist while Kansas University product Dane Broadie handled kickoffs.
"That was how it was supposed to be," she said.
Recently, though, Broadie has assumed all kicking duties. Vestal and Adams did not know if Broadie's ascension was related to Vestal's early-season kicking woes or the need to open an extra roster spot. During the first two games of the season, Vestal made four of 13 field-goal attempts.
Despite speculation that her signing served as a publicity stunt, she has not broached questions concerning her playing status to head coach Jim Green.
"I'm kind of letting it be for a while," she said.
With a home game Saturday, the Koyotes (7-1) sit in second place, and the top three APFL teams qualify for the playoffs. Adams did not know whether Vestal would play during the postseason.
Despite her recent bout of inactivity, Vestal praised her time with the Koyotes. She has enjoyed the camaraderie with her teammates, who range in age from 18 to 40, and the competition.
"It's definitely been a positive experience," she said.
The Koyotes have served as a flagship team in the APFL, going undefeated during 2003 and 2004 and capturing four championships since the indoor league's founding in 2003. Green dubbed the talent level of APFL "three steps below" the Arena Football League.
In addition to her time with the Koyotes, Vestal has spent the summer working out as part of the LHS conditioning program and playing in occasional pick-up soccer games.
A three-sport star during her senior year with the Lions, Vestal will play collegiate soccer at Johnson County Community College. She begins practicing with the JCCC soccer team on Aug. 1.