“Watch a video of me and I’ll prove you wrong,” said 11-year-old Jazmin Ramirez, who plays youth tackle football in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Paving the way for future generations, the Santa Clarita Valley has two girls that play in the youth tackle football leagues: Ramirez and Jordan Schwesinger.
Ramirez is a track and field runner that made the transition to playing tackle football when her current coach approached her parents, Lissette and Ademar Ramirez, and asked if she ever had any interest in playing the sport.
“I still look with one eye closed because there is always the potential for injury,” Lissette said. “When the other teams find out that she’s a girl they do come after her a little more. But she is a very strong girl that can take it, regroup and get back on the field.”
Jazmin is currently playing her first year of tackle football with the Chiefs youth team, a team affiliated with the Santa Clarita Warriors PYSO team. Lining up at running back and linebacker for the Chiefs, Jazmin got her love of the game from her father and her brother.
“I personally like running the ball and just love the sport in general,” Jazmin said. “It’s just something that’s a part of me. My dad and brother love the sport and showed me how to play. I just love it.”
Before every game day on Saturdays, Jazmin and her mother get into the car and drive to the game. On the way there Lissette puts on a little motivation music to get her running back/linebacker pumped.
“On my way to the game my mom plays ‘Eye of The Tiger’ to get me hyped and confident about my game,” Jazmin said. “I love it and I go out there and play my game.”
Jordan Schwesinger, an eighth-grader at Santa Clarita Christian School, began playing tackle football about six years ago at the age of eight. The younger sister of Carson and Ethan Schwesinger, who both play for the SCCS varsity football team, Jordan had some good football role models.
“We let her play with the older kids, but then she started pushing to play tackle football,” said Jordan’s father, Dennis Schwesinger. “I was nervous all the way up to when I saw her playing defensive end and she tackled the opposing team’s running back and stood over him. At that point, I knew she could compete at a high level with the boys.”
Jordan has played for the Santa Clarita Wildcats for the past six years with hopes of continuing her playing career even further.
“I love playing football, but I don’t know what I’m going to do with it,” Jordan said. “I would like to play into high school. I think that would be really cool.”
Lining up at defensive end and running back, Jordan has learned and studied the game so much that she surprises even those closest to her.
“What is surprising to me is her knowledge of the game,” Dennis said. “Sitting with her, she can tell you what defense and what coverage they’re running and what would work and what won’t. Her analysis is surprising, but she loves the game and studies it and understands a lot about it.”
Defying the norm, Jordan and Jazmin, are both the first girls on either youth football team and have no problem leaving it all out on the field and will have the boys thinking twice about doubting their abilities next time they line up opposite them.
“You know, when they find something that they really love, when you see her doing it and how much enjoyment she gets out of it, I’m just really proud of her and overjoyed watching her play,” said Diana Schwesinger.
“It’s thrilling,” Lissette said. “It’s the best feeling in the world to see her score a touchdown. I jump up and scream, ‘That’s my girl. That’s my Jazmin,’ because it’s empowering to see her be fearless and have the courage to go up against boys.”