HS Insider

First female varsity kicker at Don Antonio Lugo overcomes tragedy, doubt

Kicker Mackenzie Aguilera focusing during game against Montclair High. "I hope to build up as I get older especially since I'm a freshman," said Aguilera. (Photo by Anthony Luna)

As she was on her way to her first practice as a member of the varsity football team, she didn’t know what to expect being the only female on the football team.

She describes the nerves flowing through her body as she neared the entrance of Don Lugo’s campus and the amount of faces turned towards her as she approached her new team. She soon realized that the talented team of boys embraced her as the new starting kicker of Don Lugo Football.

“Some of them were shocked to see me out there, cause I’m a girl especially, but they support me with everything,” said Mackenzie Aguilera.

Aguilera is that “she” on the Don Lugo Varsity football team, and has already made herself an icon on Don Lugo’s small campus; being the first ever female kicker on Don Lugo varsity and the only female kicker placed on the Mt. Baldy League depth chart.

As a freshman, she has received tons of respect from students, coaches and even football players on other high school teams.

However, this isn’t the first time Aguilera has been on a male-dominated sport, she also spoke about what it was like to play on Chino’s National baseball team as a girl.

She felt that the experience playing with boys has made her feel like one of them, as her teammates don’t treat her any differently gender-wise.

Being the first female kicker on the varsity football team and receiving constant recognition may seem like a humble accomplishment.

Aguilera takes pride especially since this is the first year that she has even kicked a football. “I have been taught how to kick by my kicking coach since January so it’s been a long process till now,” Aguilera said.

Although it may seem as kickers don’t have the same amount of workload than other positions on the field, kickers do have a tough task. They are required to make big time plays and are expected to be consistent when converting extra points which is not as easy as it sounds.

Aguilera spoke on what the workload is like playing both frosh and varsity football. “It’s busy, throughout the weeks I go to both practices, so I’ll practice for frosh first, and then I’ll practice for varsity after,” Aguilera said.

Kicker Mackenzie Aguilera practicing kicks with Holder Ethan Valle before game against Chaffey HS. “I’m just glad they respect me and treat me like I’m one of the boys on the football team,” Aguilera said. (Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Aguilera)

Not everything went as planned throughout her first few games as Lugo’s varsity kicker, as disaster hit Aguilera at an early age.

After only a couple days following Lugo’s game against Tustin High, distraught news was brought to Aguilera as her mother lost her five-year fight against breast cancer.

As this hurtful loss played a major impact on Aguilera life, she still strives to be the student-athlete her mom taught her to be.

In remembrance of her mother’s name, Aguilera started a movement dedicated to her mother’s passing with the saying “4MOM” that she wears every game on her arm.

“It was really hard because when she was going through chemo, she wasn’t there to watch me on the field,” Aguilera said.

Throughout the tears and drawbacks, Aguilera was still able to get back on her feet as an athlete with the help of her family, coaches, teammates and students around campus who supported her during these rough times.

She was able to play in all 10 outings of the season, and recently split the uprights in a game-winning field goal to advance the Conquistadors to the CIF playoffs for the sixth straight year.

The future is bright for this young female student-athlete as she is barely embracing her first year in high school at Don Lugo. Aguilera also wishes she can start a new revolution of female athletes playing in male-dominated sports, and will continue to be labeled as an icon on campus.

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