Isis Salazar was watching her favorite NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers, play last fall when she told herself, “I can do that.”
So she did.
The Ocean View High School sophomore went out for the football team this season and earned a spot on the varsity as a backup running back although she had no football experience. She topped that accomplishment Friday night when she scored a touchdown on a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter of the Seahawks’ 36-16 win over visiting Temecula Prep.
Salazar is believed to be only the second girl to score a touchdown in an Orange County varsity football game. Samantha Ho scored for Tesoro — also on a 4-yard run — in a 2015 game. Ho is still involved with football, working for NFL Films.
Salazar also is an accomplished soccer player and student with a 3.8 grade-point average.
“I’m an athlete and I come from an athletic family,” Salazar explained. “My mom and my dad and my siblings always play sports. We’re always watching sports on TV.
“When I was watching the 49ers play one day there was a moment when I saw myself playing football and scoring a touchdown. Mom says, ‘If you can see it, you can do it.’”
Her mother Norma and father Enrique did not initially want their daughter to play tackle football.
“I was kind of hesitant,” Norma said. “But I also didn’t want to contradict myself. What I’ve always preached to our kids is that they should do what they want to do and nothing should hold them back. So I had to let her play.”
There have been numerous instances where girls played varsity football in Orange County and a few have kicked extra points and field goals during games. Salazar wanted more than that.
“My intentions were to not just be a kicker, but to play a position,” she said.
Ocean View football coach Jimmy Welker was not sure what to think of this petite, 5-foot-4 girl telling him she wanted to play on his team.
Welker’s response: “I did a double-take and said, ‘Are you sure?’ ”
His double-take was followed by a double-check with Enrique and Norma. Welker also asked around and learned of Salazar’s soccer success. When football practices started during the summer, Salazar was there and showed immediately that she would fit in.
“The guys on the team were hesitant at first,” said Welker, in his first season coaching at Ocean View. “I told them, ‘She’s your teammate, treat her like you treat everyone else on the team and go ahead and hit like you would hit everyone else on the team.’ ”
Salazer handled it all. She has played on the football team’s scout team, the second- and third-string players who during practice perform the offensive and defensive schemes of the upcoming opponent so that the first-string players can prepare for the game.
Before Friday’s game, Salazar had been on the field in previous games in special teams situations, where Ocean View was going to attempt an onside kick or when the Seahawks thought the opponent would try an onside kick.
“She’s an absolute pleasure to coach,” Welker said. “She jumps right in on all the drills and goes at full speed. She knows her positions back to front, and she can help the others when they have a brain lapse and forget what they’re supposed to do.”
When the outcome of Friday’s game was secure and there were a few minutes left on the clock, the Ocean View coaches began sending backup players into the game, including Salazar.
“She earned the opportunity,” Welker said, “so we decided to give her a shot.”
On her touchdown run, Salazar took a handoff from the quarterback, broke a tackle in the backfield and scooted quickly through a hole on the right side of the line to get into the end zone.
#14 Isis Salazar @isisjenemi with her 1st Touchdown. She’s the first female to score a Touchdown in @athletics_OV @OceanViewHS @HBUHSD history. @GregBiggins @OCSportsZone @ocvarsity @SportsCenter @notthefakeSVP @barstoolsports @RamsNFL @chargers @perryjameslusc @latsondheimer pic.twitter.com/ziXrWaX2jf
— Jimmy Welker (@CoachWelker) October 9, 2021
Ho recalls scoring touchdowns in her junior and senior seasons (2015 and ‘16) but she does not remember the opponents. Tesoro head coach Matt Poston also is unsure about the exact details.
Ho, who was listed on Tesoro’s 2016 roster as a 5-foot-6, 140-pound running back, was surprised when told she likely was the first girl to score a touchdown in an Orange County varsity game.
“I would have thought that it must have happened before,” said Ho, a production accountant at NFL Films.
Ho feels a kinship with Salazar.
“It’s amazing what she’s doing,” Ho said. “She’s a real position player. Usually girls playing football are kickers.”
Ho does remember the postgame reactions of opposing players during her time at Tesoro.
“Everyone‘s high-fiving each other,” she said. “Then I’d take off my helmet and hear guys say, ‘Oh, my God! That’s a girl!’”
After Salazar’s touchdown run, her teammates and coaches started cheering and celebrating, as did everyone in the stands at Ocean View High, including her family.
“We all left there without a voice,” Norma said. “My chest was hurting from yelling. We are so very proud.”
That feeling goes for Isis, too, who, while reviewing her accomplishment made sure to thank her parents, her sisters and her brother, her coaches, her teammates, her classmates, the school’s athletic trainer and even the team photographer.
“When I scored the touchdown,” she said, “I felt that I’d accomplished my goal.”
(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)