On Friday, Maile Vasquez will make Nogales High School football history. The Apaches’ starting placekicker will become the first-ever female student to play varsity football for the school, which was founded 103 years ago.
Vasquez will handle field goals and PATs.
The move “isn’t just a publicity stunt,” coach Jake Teyechea said. “She’s actually good.”
Nogales will kick off its season Friday with a game against Cholla at 7 p.m.
Both teams are under the direction of first-year coaches. Teyechea worked under previous coach Kevin Kuhm, but took over the program after Kuhm was offered an administrative position. Cholla’s new coach is Shawn Wasson, replacing Ryan Scherling.
The Arizona Daily Star caught up with Vasquez, a junior, at Saturday’s Coaches for Charity Kickoff Classic. Here’s what she said:
When did you start playing football?
I started playing this year.
What got you into it?
Well, it was kind of a joke between my friends. Later, when I went home, I was like ‘Well, what if I do join? I would be the first girl in Nogales High School to join football.'
Does that put any type of pressure on you?
I think it definitely does. I’m always that type of girl that wants to do better and wants to motivate other little girls to come play. So far, it’s shown. After one of our scrimmages, I had two little girls come up to me and they were like, ‘Can we take a picture?’ That just motivated me to do better.
When did you first get interested in football?
One of my best friends, Chuy Ochoa, he really motivated me to try out.
Had you watched football before? Are you a fan of the NFL?
Oh, yeah. I’m a fan of the (Carolina) Panthers.
When did you make the decision to join the team?
At the end of my sophomore year. That’s when I started going out to practices and practiced with them all summer.
How have the coaches accepted you?
Oh, the coaches are super accepting. They’re really motivating and are always giving me pep talks. They help so much.
How does it go on a day-to-day basis? How do practices go?
Practices are really good. I feel myself getting more conditioned every day. Coaches are helping me with my kicks. I remember my kicks (when I first started) — I couldn’t. And now I’m kicking like 35 yards.
How long have you played soccer?
I played for three years when I was younger and then I got back into it in sixth grade and I’ve been playing ever since.
What would you hope to accomplish this season?
I’m trying not to miss any field goals. I hope I don’t miss any. Also, just to motivate girls because girls can also do anything guys can do.
Can we expect to see you on the field a lot this season?
Are you ready for the first game of the season?
Yes, I am. I’m a little nervous for the first game, I’m not going to lie, but I’m ready.
This week's games
All games start at 7 p.m.
Ironwood Ridge at Mountain View
Tucson High at Maryvale
Catalina Foothills at Sierra Vista Buena
Canyon del Oro at Flowing Wells
Marana at Scottsdale Horizon
Cholla at Nogales
Rincon/University at Phoenix Sierra Linda
Gilbert Campo Verde at Sunnyside
Amphi at Buckeye
Casa Grande at Palo Verde
Pusch Ridge Christian at Rio Rico
Casa Grande Vista Grande at Sahuaro
Douglas at Tanque Verde
Santa Cruz Valley at Sahuarita