The Lady Golden Eagles can now call themselves trailblazers after the girls flag football team officially kicks off.
Head Coach Kaleb Leyva leads the team full of multi-sport athletes who jumped at the opportunity to create something new at Desert Hot Springs High School.
Coach Leyva, also an alumni from DHSHS, says, “Coming back and giving out to the community, it’s great. It’s fun to see the excitement of the girls.”
A lot of the girls couldn’t wait for the moment this became a reality like Ciera Light and Nylah McClelland.
“Last year around powder puff time we had been seeing the CIF was finally officiating it as an official sport. And so we went to Mr Lyles, our athletic coordinator and I was like, we need a team. We need a team!”
Well, they have that new beginning of their own — they say it’s more than a team and closer to a family.
“No, it’s nice to have a new sisterhood like these ladies I couldn’t like bond with,” says Emelly Corona-Hernandez.
Rita Leyva, the assistant to and wife of Coach Leyva, says it’s important to lead these girls by example.
“It is our first time ever, so we’re making history. I have a lot of girls that came and actually do other sports. And we’re teaching the girls, you know, to give back to your community,” says Leyva. “I feel like we’re really like empowering them, uplifting him up, lifting them and really giving like a lot of recognition to our girls here that work so hard female athletes.”
But being the first to ever do something anywhere, will always feel a little special for a lot of these girls.
“I mean, it feels great to be part of the first generation of starting flag football for DHS,” says Corona-Hernandez. “It’s something new for our school and I hope it gets bigger than it is right now.
And it all comes down to helping the team towards a goal. Maliyah Manning confirms it feels like that across the board.
“We help each other out and support each other.”
Corona-Hernandez adds that they’re off to a great start together.
“Honestly, it’s going really great… We are starting to become a family, which that is very like, you know, for a sport like this, we support each other. You know, we encourage each other, we uplift each other. We make sure we’re all good.”
Coach Leyva notices it too.
“I really love is how little by little we’re becoming a family here. We’re becoming close together. A lot of these girls knew each other, but there are some that didn’t and to see that they’re all coming together, that’s something that’s been really exciting,” says Coach Leyva. “I see them down on campus saying hi to each other, hugging each other, saying so that’s what’s really exciting to me that we are able to come and have a family. That’s been the best thing I’ve seen.”
And even though it’s the final year for Light and McClelland, it’s still great to be part of something new for the generations to come.
“It feels great. We are seniors, it feels kind of bittersweet,” says Light.
“ We’re leaving. But, you know, at least we got to play one last year and started it too. So it was good,” says McClelland.
When it comes down to goals, these Lady Golden Eagles, Corona-Hernandez kept it simple.
“Become a family. Like the family is the biggest thing in a sport.”
Their first game though is set for October 3rd against the Palm Desert Lady Aztecs.