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For a long time, the sports world has been a male-dominated area on and off the field. Male professional teams have been prioritized and men make up most team executives and team owners who call the shots. Women have been sidelined as cheerleaders and wives. Fortunately, now there are more women than ever working to make pro sports more inclusive. One of those women is Mexican-American Kassandra Garcia.

As the football administration analyst for the Los Angeles Rams, 27-year-old Kassandra Garcia is the highest-ranking Latina in the NFL.

Many would call Kassandra Garcia’s story the American dream. But Garcia is adamant that she couldn’t have done it alone. In interviews, she credits her Nana and her mother with imbuing her with the strength to pursue her dreams. A second-generation Mexican-American, Garcia’s grandparents emigrated from Mexico with three children and little understanding of English. Through grit and hard work, Garcia’s grandparents built thriving Mexican restaurants in Tuscon, Arizona.

It was through their example of hard work that Kassandra Garcia built her career. While Garcia was studying for her degree in Business Administration at the University of Arizona, she also interned for the school’s football team as a “Rally Cat.” Because of her Excel and accounting skills, she soon became an analyst. Her career quickly took off and she landed at the Rams in 2019.

But Kassandra Garcia admits that, for girls, it is not always easy to come from a big Mexican-American family.

“Not to generalize, but there’s such a machismo, there’s such a focus on the men in our culture,” Kassandra Garcia told USA TODAY Sports. But Garcia says that her grandmother treated her differently. “But I grew up so differently. The men are served first, always, because we revolve around food. The men sit down, the women serve them. My Nana doesn’t even eat until the men get their second plate. But for some reason, my Nana didn’t treat me like that. She’d serve me along with the men.”

Kassandra Garcia contributes her success at such a young age for her willingness to fail. “I have failed so much in this life. All I’ve done is just be brave enough to step into the arena and fail,” she told USA Today Sports.

Becoming the highest ranking Latina in the NFL didn’t happen by accident. Garcia says she has a rebellious streak that pushes her to pursue impossible goals.

“I’m stubborn as hell,” Garcia told USA Today Sports. “When someone tells me I can’t do something, it’s game-over. This fire inside me burns to prove them wrong. I don’t know if that’s being stubborn, narcissism, ego – and I think about this all the time – but it has driven me here.”

Although it’s exciting that Garcia is blazing a trail for other Latinas who aspire to have a career in the business side of pro-sports, her story is the exception. According to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, only 7% of professional administration roles in the NFL are women of color. So while Kassandra Garcia may be an anomaly in 2021, here’s to hoping she will be one of many Latinas working in the NFL in the coming years.