Football is no longer a fantasy for linebacker

Girl on freshman team is first since 2001

Amy Pham, Co-Editor-In-Chief

She knows what she signed up for. She knows she’s gonna get hurt. And, she’s not scared. Freshman Sarai Aradillas has been ready since day one.

Aradillas had wanted to play football since middle school, but was stopped due to already being captain of the volleyball team. Now in high school, she is the first female to play on the football team since 2001.

“Sometimes girls in the past have wanted to do it for attention,” Coach Jon Card said. “But Sarai actually really wants to play football, it seems like, so I’m all for it.”

She began by attending the school’s summer workouts, which taught her how exactly to start playing. Conditioning included running, weights and agility training. Aradillas is currently a linebacker on the freshman team.

“I encourage people to come out there if they really wanna try it, but it’s not for everybody,” Coach Jason Riffe said. “It’s a lot more physical than people think it is.”

When Aradillas’ father first found out about her being on the team, he thought she was crazy. Aradillas said he completely flipped out, but eventually a deal was struck that if her grades stay steady and she does not get hurt even once, then she will be able to continue playing.

“He thought that I was gonna get hurt, that I’ll be in the hospital, that I’ll be dead or something along those lines,”Aradillas said. “As time went on, he felt reassurance with the coaches and me. He still worries, that’s one thing, but not as much as he did at the beginning.”

According to Aradillas, the coaches were initially hesitant toward letting her play in games. However, on Sept. 23 in a game against Sachse, she was allowed in for the first time. Afterwards, she said her teammates and coaches changed their perspective.They said she did an amazing job and could take a hit, to which she said she always knew she had the ability, but they never gave her a chance.

“I’m not really scared of what the other team’s gonna do,” Aradillas said. “I’m just technically scared that they’ll go easy on me. They won’t try because I’m a girl. If you’re gonna go out, go all out on me. I joined for a reason.”

According to Aradillas, her teammates were awkward around her at the beginning. However, now she is treated like family. Along with this, comes concern for her.

“They get worried that I’ll get hurt ‘cause I’m a girl.,” Aradillas said. “It’s not a big deal; if I get hit, I get hurt. It’s nothing big. We all eventually get hurt at some point.They just needed time to get comfortable with me, to actually be able to try their best with me.”

Aradillas said most of her male friends thought she was berserk, but are now proud of her. Her female friends have supported her, though at first Aradillas did not think joining the team would cause surprise or make an impact. She now knows she was wrong.

“People tell me how I affected the way they think,” Aradillas said. “I didn’t really think that it would get this far. It caught me off guard. I’m in awe and in shock.”

Aradillas said that a lot of people believe girls are not able to play certain sports like lacrosse or football because of their shape. She believes playing football is a positive thing, because it will show girls that they should not be afraid of doing what they want to.

“[If I did pay attention to negative comments], I would use it as a motivation to push myself even more, so I could rub it in their face and be like,”Hah, you thought wrong; I showed you wrong; don’t be mad,’” Aradillas said. “In some ways [guys are] faster and stronger, but that doesn’t mean we [aren’t] able to compete with that. I get that guys are big, guys are strong, some of them are scary. That doesn’t mean we aren’t.”

Aradillas said football is her favorite sport, and she thought of it 24/7 before being able to finally check this goal off her bucket list. According to Aradillas, football is a violent sport, but it teaches players how to respect others.

“It’s not just a game,” Aradillas said. “If you start doing great, amazing tackles, the coaches notice, everybody notices. Even if you don’t progress as fast as the others, people still cheer you on. It makes you stronger, not just as a person, physically, but mentally and emotionally [as well].”

According to Riffe, in the beginning she was anxious and hesitant, but her comfort level and knowledge of the sport has expanded in the three months she has been playing.

“She has a great heart, a great attitude, and shows up every day,” Riffe said. “She has a willingness to learn and wants to get better so she can contribute more. She has an infection for wanting to learn the ins and outs of football.”