First female footballer finds fame

Ashanti+Dias+24+became+the+first+girl+to+play+for+the+Riordan+football+team+this+past+season.+

Rizlin Jew '22

Ashanti Dias ’24 became the first girl to play for the Riordan football team this past season.

Mahkai Hunt '23, Staff Reporter

History is in the making at the R.

This past football season, Riordan had their first ever female football player to play for Varsity!

Ashanti Dias ’24, but most people at school know her as Nuni, is a sophomore and has a love for sports. She is also the starting point guard on the Varsity girls basketball team and has been on Varsity since she was a freshman.

Dias talked about her desire to play football and her journey through the process, saying, “What made me want to play football was watching my older brothers play Pop Warner. I used to be on the sideline wishing I could play but I was too young.”

Ashanti Dias ’24 has been playing football since she was a child.

She continued, “When I got old enough to play Pop Warner I tried out for the San Francisco Junior 49ers Tiny Mites, and everyone was impressed because I played harder than most of the boys.”

Coach Brian Davis said, “She practiced hard, never complained and did not ask for special treatment. She played in the Tam game and in five minutes of play in the fourth quarter she had four tackles and an interception, sealing the victory.”

Coach Ed Beteta ’85, JV Head Coach and Special Teams coach for Varsity, said her presence on the field was inspiring. “If you want something bad enough, go out and get it. Ashanti loves playing football and all she wanted was a shot to play. She received that opportunity and made the most of it.”

Donovan McClain ’23 at Riordan said, “Ashanti is one of the most fun people that I have ever played with and she always comes to practice and games with a positive attitude.”

Dias added, “What motivated me to keep playing football was I found out I was good at it, and it was good to show to people just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I’m not capable or that I’m weak, and I found football was actually fun.”

Dias plays a variety of sports besides football such as basketball and track. Her family’s encouragement is a factor in her success, she said.

“The support I got from family and friends was that everyone believed in me. They were excited for me, encouraged me to keep going even if it got hard, and to have fun.”

The support I got from family and friends was that everyone believed in me. They were excited for me, encouraged me to keep going even if it got hard, and to have fun.”

— Ashanti Dias '24

Being the only girl on a football team has its challenges, but Dias was not swayed by fear or stereotypes.

“I did not feel intimidated by the boys because I have brothers and cousins who I’m very physical with. The boys did not intimidate me because I knew that if I felt intimidated, I wouldn’t play good or do good.”

Teammates and opponents alike agree Dias is one of the most fierce and outgoing female athletes in high school and she is only a sophomore.

“I am not sure if other teams even knew I was a girl,” she said, “but I knew they would fear me.”