Santa Barbara High School introduces a new sport this school year. Many girls are making history by being a part of Santa Barbara High School’s first girl’s flag football team. The team is being run by Head Coach Gabe Renteria and Assistant Coach Carlina Gonzalez. In their first game against Thousand Oaks, the Dons won 19-0. They were the first game to be played in the whole southern section of California. Another highlight this season is the Dons played Pacifica and came out on top 21-14 scoring three touchdowns in six minutes after being down 14-0 at the half.
The team includes three team captains, junior Dayzia Mendoza, and two seniors, Izzy Garofalo and Carolina Esparza, who are all excited to be a part of the first flag football team. When interviewing junior Dayzia Mendoza about something she is looking forward to this season she responded “I’m looking forward to going out and competing against new teams.” Being on this team is very important to her especially when she added “… football has been mainly directed towards boys and it feels very special for girls to show their athleticism in football and their passion for a sport that has never really been meant for girls.” While talking to senior Carolina Esparza, when questioned how it feels being a part of something that has never happened in SBHS history she answered, “To be part of something new at Santa Barbara High is honestly pretty amazing” adding to that, Carolina states, “Football is already a big thing at Santa Barbara High, and to bring athletic girls to play this new sport is honestly really fun and is a great new environment for everyone.” Carolina feels everyone being there for each other helps the team get motivated. The support the team gives one another gets the team ready to do their best and win games.
Head coach Gabe Renteria is the first girl’s flag football coach ever, and hopes to have a fun season. Athletic Director Todd Heil asked Gabe if he’d take on the position due to Gabe coaching at the high school level for five years and teaching at the youth level for multiple years. At first, Gabe didn’t know if he’d take on the position because he was still attending college, but once he was asked by girls who were trying out if he’d coach, he decided to take on the challenge. Gabe’s ultimate goal for this season is to be competitive during every game. He wants to teach the game of football to girls on the team so they understand the game and will enjoy the team comradery. While being asked about how it feels to be the first girl’s flag football coach Santa Barbara High School has ever had, he states, “Honestly it’s crazy because I know how much tradition means here at Santa Barbara and most of my family graduated here, so being named the first-ever coach was an honor for me.” He knows coaching this team will improve his coaching skills for the future due to learning patience while coaching girls since it is much different from coaching boys, whom he’s coached his whole life. There will be no playoffs this year, so he states “… it’s no pressure to win games, but I am still a competitive person.” Gabe claims it has been a fun ride so far, but in addition to that statement hopes to enjoy this season and have as much fun as possible.
[Image Credit: Miguel Unzueta] & [Image Credit: Alyssa Hernandez]