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.