Jackson State women's soccer player Leilani Armenta made history this weekend as the first woman player in Jackson State football history. According to ESPN, Armenta was added to the team due to injuries sustained by players on the team.
Armenta is a freshman soccer player at Jackson State University from Ventura, CA. She attended Saint Bonaventure High School where she played varsity football as a punter and kicker. In her varsity career at Saint Bonaventure High School, Armenta made 98 out of 105 PAT attempts (2 blocked) and made all 5 of her field goal attempts. She also tallied a total of 3,552 kickoff yards, including 2 touchbacks and 3 onside kick recoveries. Her skills earned her five county kicking records.
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Ventura County Star reporter Loren Ledin did a feature on her following her first game in her sophomore year in 2021. According to Armenta at the time, football was a new sport for her.
“Before I got to high school, I had never even touched a football,” she said to Ledin. “I thought I could do that, I have confidence in myself as a kicker. So I wanted to give it a try.”
She was nervous as she attempted to try out for her high school team, getting approval from head football coach Tony Henney but she eventually made the team, earning the role as the starting kicker.
“I was nervous about everything,” she said. “I was playing a sport I had never played before and was playing with a bunch of boys. There were a couple of boys who I could tell weren't all that happy with me being there. But I wanted to prove what I can do. I have confidence in myself.”
Time will tell if she'll suit up for the Jackson State football team again following their matchup against Bethune Cookman but Leilani Armenta is already a part of history.