BY MARJORIE ACOSTA
With its hard hits, heavy pads, and tons of adrenaline, football is definitely a manly man’s sport…until now. Jacquisha Hightower is in her first season with the South Miami Grey Ghosts. Technically it’s her 2nd as last year she was on the sidelines as a cheerleader. So what made her trade in her pom-poms for shoulder pads? Jacquisha says she wanted to see what it was like to play football and was looking forward to the challenge.
A challenge is exactly what she got. As one of the few girls playing in her football league, there was a big target on her back, even from her own teammates. She remembers how difficult it was to fit in with her team saying, “They said I wasn’t even gonna last a day. They said they would just run me over one time and I was gonna be out of it. But once I showed them I’m tough they started appreciating me.”
It took time and a lot of perseverance but Jacquisha’s team is now behind her 100%. Her dad, Jacoby Graggs Sr., remembers the first time she stepped on the field. Although he was nervous he says, “She plays hard. She’s one of the hardest ones on the team. She’s tough!”
Jacquisha is an honor student with a 4.0 GPA. Her love of sports is what keeps on her on track at school. She’s a well-rounded athlete playing several sports and running track. She has the speed for the game, but her favorite part is the hitting! Jacquisha says, “Boys say I’m not tough enough but when I play D-end I showed them I could get them down.”
Jacquisha has literally tackled through some major obstacles. Through it all, she remains resilient. No one knows this better than her coach Kenneth Abraham. Coach Kenneth knew it would be risky to put a girl on his team, but Jacquisha quickly showed him he had nothing to worry about. He’s confident in her determination and skills as a player saying, “For a young lady to do what she’s doing at this level, at this age is something mind boggling. I’m proud of her.”
Jacquisha plans to continue playing football as long as she can. Her goal is to be the best in the league no matter how hard her competition may be. She hopes other girls will follow in her footsteps saying, “Go out there and try your hardest and if someone hits you, get back up and try harder. Never give up. If you like football just keep going towards your dream.”