Eagle Rock High School Girl’s Flag Football moves together as a team on and off the field. On the field, they cling to each other on the sidelines, moving along with the action, hair bows flapping in the wind as they cheer each other on. Off the field, senior defensive back Miriam Ramirez said the team acts as sisters.
Ramirez — affectionately nicknamed “Sticky” for the way flags just seem to find themselves firm in her grasp — said she has a background in football, growing up watching football and playing on coed teams. However, Ramirez said she finds something special in the connection of this team, the first girl’s football team in the school’s history.
“Communicating as a team is the number one thing we focus on, so when we are in practice and someone is having a hard time, there is always all of us going in and huddling with them, just knowing that they are not alone,” Ramirez said.
Currently competing to be the top-ranking team in LA, the impact of the team is something the players feel strongly about and take seriously, according to senior running back Zoe Lambino.
“I think in making flag football an official sport, it really opened up a space for a lot of girls like ourselves to prove ourselves and do what we set out to do and get rough.” Lambino said. “It is just a generally really empowering feeling, knowing that we have set up a space not only for people to establish a name for themselves, but to also start a conversation about the role of women in sports.”
Coach Julie Wilkins said the team is working against the stereotypes not only about female athletes, but women coaches too.
“It has been difficult having two female coaches in football, like this is a male-dominant profession,” Wilkens said.
Senior quarterback Teiya Hermida said having women coaches provides team members with role models, helping them feel understood.
“Having two female coaches who have gone through the same things we have, playing sports and coaching sports, and just being females in general, they know how to get to us and work with us and motivate us,” Hermida said. “I’m just so thankful that these are my coaches.”
Gladys Campos, aunt of player Audrey Campos, sat in the bleachers for the team’s senior night Oct. 5. To celebrate, the stadium was decorated in the team’s signature pink, with a stage, red carpet and velvet ropes. While holding large cutout picture of Audrey as a baby, Gladys Campos said this was her first time attending a game but she has pride in their accomplishments so far.
“I just really enjoy seeing that this school is progressing in terms of women’s sports in general, especially flag football, which is on the rise right now,” Campos said. “I have seen the way that they have worked before, on social media, at their practices and I could not be prouder.”
Luis Romero, father of player Brooklyn Romero, used to coach many of the members of the team in basketball. He said the players have a strong bond, especially because many of them have played together before.
“Most of these girls come from basketball, and a few tailored from softball, but they have all played travel basketball together,” Romero said “So for them to build the chemistry, it was actually just natural.”
When the team got its start last June, Wilkins said she and Truman scouted players from some of Eagle Rock’s existing teams. Wilkins said the team started to see parents bring their daughters and nieces to games, asking the girls to sign their autographs and realizing that they were truly making a difference not just for the local community, but women’s sports as a whole.
“There is not a better group of girls we could have started with,” Truman said. “Honestly, this is the most perfect group in every way. Each individual is perfect–like puzzle pieces, they all come together.”
Contact Beatrice Irwin at firstname.lastname@example.org