California teen Samantha Segura-Veliz is the only female to ever play varsity football at Elsinore High School. During her school's homecoming game, she found out that she is more than just No. 55 on the football field — she is No. 1 in her school's heart.
On September 27, 17-year-old Segura-Veliz took off her helmet and replaced it with a royal title. The Elsinore Tigers named the offensive guard and defensive end their homecoming queen.
"I'm playing with people that support me and love me and they're my brothers," Segura-Veliz told CBS Los Angeles. "Took my helmet off, put the crown on, and it felt really good."
According to the school's athletic website, Segura-Veliz first joined the football team in 2017. She played junior varsity for a year before switching over to varsity in 2018. The guys on the team were a little nervous about her joining at first, but Segura-Veliz said she "proved to everybody" she could do it.
"I was like, I'm one of you guys and if we're gonna be a team we have to do this together," she said, adding that her accomplishments thus far wouldn't have been possible without believing in herself. "Because if I didn't trust in myself. I wouldn't be here today. All those people who said I couldn't do it, they actually helped me to say, hey, I could do this because I am my own person."
And Segura-Veliz's talents don't stop in the court or on the field. She has also taken her skills to the school's varsity wrestling team, where she competes against males and females. After high school, she plans to apply what she's learned to the military and later join the FBI.
"I knew she was tough, but this kind of went beyond," said athletic director Don Nicholson.
Going against common expectations for females is no new feat for the athlete. In an op-ed for her high school's news site, the teen wrote last month about "breaking barriers," saying that "women have made a difference as a whole and lead in different pathways."
"Women have been strong-minded individuals that want to strive for more and I stand by that because we should not be upheld to standards that were created many many years ago," she wrote. "Women can dominate - as long as you want to make it possible it is achievable."