ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Valarie Baca went to New Mexico Highlands to play soccer. She had no idea that she would play in a football game before ever competing in soccer at the school. “I would have told you that you were crazy,” said Baca.
Baca became the first woman to score an extra point in a New Mexico Highlands football game when she planted the ball through the uprights twice in a 62-26 victory over Ft. Lewis this past weekend. “I ran onto the field and I didn’t really feel anything when I kicked it. It kind of just happened. I don’t know how to explain it,” Baca said. She had her first soccer season at Highlands wiped out by COVID-19.
The pandemic also brought her the opportunity on a football field when the kicker for Highlands opted out of the spring season. Highlands football coaching staff was in a tight spot and asked players from the women’s soccer team to try out. Baca stood out and got the opportunity. She had to get used to wearing a helmet and walking with pads. “It was weird at first. The helmet was bothering me The shoulder pads, it was hard to move in it,” said Baca.
Baca’s accomplishments on the football field generated some excitement in Las Vegas, New Mexico. There were cheerleaders who just wanted to look at her and a little girl, waiting to say hello. Baca felt like a celebrity, but the best feeling of all is the experience she had playing football for the first time with the support of her coaches and teammates.
“How welcoming and friendly everyone was, the guys on the team, the coaches,” said Baca. “Everyone was very supporting and very welcoming. They’re very friendly. It just made the whole experience a lot better.” Baca said she hasn’t asked her coach for her number 21 jersey to have as a keepsake, but she is thinking about it. Baca also said she believes she may have played in her first and only football game, but she also said never say never.