Sami Grisafe earns induction into the Redlands High School Athletic Hall of Fame

In what is likely the first of many more accolades to come, quarterback Sami Grisafe has been recognized with induction into the Redlands High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Definitely a fitting tribute to a lifetime devoted to breaking barriers, Grisafe helped pave the way for others to follow in her glorious footsteps.

Part of a seven-member class of inductees, Grisafe began breaking those barriers while at Redlands High School. Back in 2000, she led the Redlands Terriers to the field as a sophomore quarterback, making her the first girl to line up behind center in the history of CIF-SS play.

Competing against arch-rival school Redlands East Valley in varsity competition, it was a great moment for sporting equality, while adding another gratifying chapter to the history of Title IX.

Although volleyball and water polo represented other athletic pursuits, Grisafe proved at an early age that she possessed many talents. Winning a statewide monologue competition, it would prove to be part of the next chapter in her athletic and entertainment destinies.

Earning an acting scholarship at Chicago’s Roosevelt University, it did not take long before the city’s proud football history and remarkable music heritage shaped her life in positive and enriching ways. Inspired by her parents’ country music roots with their band, Two of Hearts, Grisafe has composed music which attempts to match such inspiration.

With songs such as “Trevor” paying tribute to The Trevor Project, along with her moving portrayal of the Star Spangled Banner at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds in Vantaa, Finland, her musical gifts are just as prevalent as her athletic gifts. This was complemented by her first album, Atlantis, which drew pre-nominations for the Grammy Awards.

While she channeled Chicago’s musical energy into a stirring melodic career, her love of the gridiron catapulted her to historic success. In addition to earning a WFA national title as the starting quarterback for the Chicago Force, Grisafe would participate on the world’s biggest stage.

Competing as the starting quarterback for the US national women’s team at the 2010 and 2013 IFAF Women’s World Football Championships, Grisafe earned a pair of gold medals. Perhaps more impressive, Grisafe threw the first touchdown pass in the history of the event.

While an ACL injury has prompted Grisafe towards the musical spotlight on a full-time basis, her final appearance on the football stage was a memorable one. Contested on home soil in Chicago, Grisafe participated in the WFA All-American Game. It was the final footnote to a stellar athletic career that exemplifies why she earned her recognition by Today’s Chicago Woman, naming Grisafe to its list of the 100 inspirational women in the city.

Considering that her inspiring journey began at Redlands, the nod to their Hall brings her athletic career full circle. Commemorating a special time in California sporting history, the significance of her induction is that it shall stand as a symbol of motivation for future athletes. While a new generation of girls throughout America pursue their own gridiron dreams, such future pioneers can thank Grisafe’s efforts.


Destiny Armendariz capturing hearts and minds of Texas football fans

Considering that football is a significant part of the sporting and social fabric of Texas, a new revolution is taking place on the gridiron. Girls are starting to embrace the game and make their own statement that they deserve an opportunity to play. As the barriers begin to crumble and break, Destiny Armendariz has generated a significant amount of media attention throughout the state.

In her second season as a middle linebacker and second string fullback for Creekwood Middle School B Team, she is the only girl on the roster. Gaining praise from her head coach Paul Hinson, she has quickly evolved as a leader on the field. Her coach has even told others on the team that they need to play more like her, testament to her dedication. Of note, Armendariz is the second eighth-grade girl playing football in the Humble Independent School District. Amya Anglin competes at the safety position for Woodcreek Middle School.

A significant source of support in her football ambitions come from her family. Theresa, her mother, is jubilant at her daughter’s success, who is only the second girl to play football for Creekwood Middle School. Drawing inspiration from her grandfather, she also looks up to her older brother, Emil Armendariz, Jr., a member of the football team at Kingwood High School.

With ambitions to continue gracing the gridiron at the high school level, Armendariz aspires to become the first female to compete at the linebacker position in college football. Taking into account her role model is Dr. Jen Welter, there is no question that such a dream could one day become reality.
Having played men’s football with the Texas Revolution, Welter has also played with the WFA’s Dallas Diamonds and the IWFL’s Houston Dynamo. Also a two-time IFAF Women’s World champion with Team USA, Welter is helping inspire a new generation of girls to play football. Among this new generation, Armendariz is certainly among them.

Of note, Armendariz had the chance to see Welter play with the Revolution, during their final regular season game. Held in Dallas, her entire family drove up from Houston to see the match. The highlight for Armendariz was the chance to meet Welter afterwards. The most heartwarming aspect of the experience was an e-mail that she sent to Welter, reciprocating the inspiration that Welter provided.

Welter was proud upon receiving the e-mail that she wrote about meeting Armendariz in her blog for USA Football. While it was a touch of class on the part of Welter, it certainly set a positive example about what it means to appreciate your fans. Should Armendariz follow in Welter’s footsteps and continue to break barriers, she will likely have her own fans sharing their stories with her, making Welter an amazing individual to emulate.

Sabrina Tucci helps to shatter barriers with Pennington football

For the first in the 135 year history of Mercer County, New Jersey’s Pennington School football, Sabrina Tucci shatters barriers by suiting up for the boys football team. Having played soccer since four years old, she was a natural to extend her game to the gridiron as a placekicker and punter.

Taking into account that the team was looking for a kicker in the off-season, she communicated with Pennington head coach Jerry Eure. In agreeing to let her participate with the team, he has advised that she will not be part of any contact drills.

Although Tucci would relish the opportunity to participate in a tackle after kickoff, she is not the first female kicker in the history of Mercer County football. In 2004, Notre Dame high school student Bridget Catanese became the first to kick a field goal, successfully converting on a 42-yard attempt.

While the team was a little skeptical about a girl playing for their team, she has quickly made believers. Senior quarterback Greg Oldsey was one of the first to stick up for her, stating that the game is one of specialists, and Tucci plays at a specialists’ position. Of note, senior player Marcellus Morris compares Tucci to Mo’ne Davis, a female pitcher whose presence at the Little League World Series of Baseball made national news.

As a side note, Tucci is not the only notable female athlete to have attended Pennington. Having allowed girls to attend the school since 1972, one of the most successful female sporting alumnae includes Amber Brooks. Currently, she competes in the National Women’s Soccer League with the Portland Thorns.

Entering her junior year, Tucci measures in at 5-foot-6 and 125 pounds. Having made field goals from 20 yards away in practice, she has successfully made 10-yard kicks, the traditional distance for PAT attempts. In addition, she is an athletic humanitarian, having spent over 20 days of her summer in Thailand and Australia with a community service organization called Rustic Pathways.

While Tucci has yet to see play during the 2014 regular season, she does not have a uniform number assigned to her either, her presence is one that is of great encouragement for other female students at Pennington. While the school has a 2-2 record and a state rank of 68, it would be worthwhile for morale and her development as a player to see her compete in at least one game this season.