Being the first female football player is not something the young freshman thought about when she donned the football pads at Hagerman High School. Miracle Rey is about to make history as the first female football player at Hagerman.
Some might think yeah, but she doesn’t fire out when she blocks, but the point is she is there and the reason she is there on the field playing against the boys has nothing to do with achieving or taking up a position or making a statement but it is for her about overcoming being bullied — taking a stand to announce her goals are important in life and that she is as good as anybody.
Rey always loved watching football on TV with her brothers and one day she told her family she would play football. She didn’t want to go through another year of being bullied so she asked her brothers to teach her how to play.
“I told my brothers I don’t want to get bullied this year,” Rey said. “I want to do what I want. Let’s go outside and train because I want to play football.”
Her father, Francisco Rey Jr., told her no, but she continued to play and practice with her brothers in the streets without pads or equipment. Rey would get scrapes and scratches but she would not be detoured. Francisco didn’t want his daughter to get hurt like her brother playing football and voted against her, but her mother gave her her approval to play in eighth-grade.
“My dad was against me playing football,” Rey said. “He told me to never cry and after he watched me play against Loving, he said, ‘Do what you have the skill to do and you’re doing it.”’
During the season she continued to fall in love with the game of football. She had much to learn but she continued to throw blocks for the running backs she was blocking for and clog the line in the middle on defense.
“I learned not to let players get by me on the defensive line,” Rey said. “I love football and I want to be the first woman to play in the National Football League.”
The hardest thing about playing football for Rey is lifting weights and getting the bar over her head. She knows that to play at the level she wants to play at, she will have to continue to get stronger in the weight room as the players she is facing in high school are bigger than her and stronger since she has had trouble in the monkey drill.
Outside of football, Rey’s hobby is training horses — her favorite horse is Star. She doesn’t think it is hard to train horses and that it helps her with football. Rey knows there is a chance she could get hurt, but she feels like if she does, she is doing what she loves and is OK with that.
Her teammates have treated her like she is one of the guys. They have not taken it easy on her on the field and have hit her in drills, just like they were playing Jal or any other team. In one of the practices, Rey called out Derek Franklin, one of the leaders on the team to go one-on-one with him in which she had to defeat him and tackle the ball carrier. She did not make the tackle but it wasn’t for lack of effort. She conditions with the team when they run their 20-40 yard dashes at the end of practice.
“All of my family is proud of me,” Rey said, “not that I’m playing but that I’m trying. I especially try to show people that I can do it (play football) especially when they say I can’t do it.”
Hagerman coach Guy Rivers believes that with hard work, Rey will be able to play. He thinks she is one of the hardest workers he has and that with some work on her technique and form, she will make a good lineman in time. He is proud of his team that they have accepted her like any other teammate and embraced her being on the team. Rivers has noticed that the players will take her to the side of the field and work with her on blocking or getting off blocks, depending on if it is an offensive day or a defensive day.
“I’m never going to tell a student that they cannot play,” Rivers said. “I did tell her it is real football and the kids are all getting bigger — it’s not like when you are the same age. The boys are getting bigger, stronger and faster and they are going to hit you. I can’t tell them not to hit you. You want to be a football player they are going to hit you. I did tell her if for some reason it didn’t work out for her and if playing wasn’t for Rey, she is still part of our family. We are one big family and that’s why they have embraced her.”
River’s doesn’t worry about Rey getting hurt any more than he does the other players on his team. He figures people can get hurt getting out of bed, going to study hall, crossing the street and that if something is going to happen to anyone, it’s going to happen, it’s God’s will.
“I think she (Rey) has brought some of the ‘if a girl can do it, so can I,’” Rivers said. “She comes out here and sticks it out and pulls our ties — why can’t I. She is always smiling and talking, which is a positive.”
On Aug. 24, she will be able to see all of her hard work pay off when Hagerman takes on Capitan.