One girl changing football history

Selena Sifuentes-Shaffer is changing minds and softening hearts


Grace Collazo

From the sidelines, sophomore Selena Sifuentes-Shaffer watches her junior varsity teammates during a recent game on the road.

By Emma Siebold, Smithson Valley High School

The quarterback snaps the ball on third down. It’s a tie game. The linebacker surges forward, ready to defend the run, but instead is pushed back by the opposing team’s fullback. Little did he know, he had just been blocked by a girl.

Sophomore Selena Sifuentes-Shaffer plays football on the junior varsity team. She is the only girl to ever don the Ranger helmet.

“Being in a sport dominated by just guys means I have to work extra hard,” Sifuentes-Shaffer said. “They always say that boys are always going to be stronger than girls, but to me that means that I just have to spend extra time in the weight room and do extra sprints.”

Selena Sifuentes-Shaffer
Sifuentes-Shaffer (right) smiles with her mother and brother at Football Barbecue Day. Selena plays fullback for the junior varsity team.

Selena started playing football as a fourth-grader when she went to school in Louisiana. Because it was her first year at the school, people looked at her as the “new girl,” and she wanted a way to make friends.

“How I ended up playing football was kind of a cool story.” Sifuentes-Shaffer said . “We went to sign up my twin brother for football and [sign me up] for cheerleading, because I did gymnastics at the time. The lady at the stand said that cheerleading was merely just chants for the peewee football team, and my mom kindly declined.”

Next to the cheer stand stood the sign-up for football. Sifuentes-Shaffer and her mother decided on football, which young Selena took as a challenge.

“Honestly, my 4th grade self was like, ‘oh, what did I just do?’, but I’m so glad I did football because I just adore it so much.”

Selena has her locker and shower in the athletic trainers’ locker room, but other than that, she desires no special treatment.

“I expect my teammates to treat me like just another football player,” she says. “I know what I signed up for.”

Selena’s family has been her biggest supporter.

“There have been some incidents where my family [had] to stand up for me at my old school, because they didn’t want me to play. My family is always ready to fight for my right to play the sport I love.”

Coach Russell Doege, Selena’s position coach, was not shocked to see a girl on the team.

“I have coached a girl on the football team before at another high school, who turned out to be an Olympic athlete.” Doege said. “Her teammates treat her like any other player, and she is a great athlete and works hard to be the best she can be.”

Selena does not plan on stopping her football career anytime soon and could someday play on the varsity field.

“My plan for the future is to continue to play my sport for as long as I can, because I truly enjoy playing it.”

This story was originally published on Valley Ventana on October 3, 2019.