Star-Studded Santiago: First Female Football Player in APS


Making History: Nivea Santiago marks her name in APS history as the first female football player in the district.

As notoriously peppy North Atlanta students, dubs and their peers seem to wish– or even pray — away the times that they shared at Sutton Middle School. However, as painful as these years of middle learning, puberty, and the path to inner spirituality are, one thing stays consistent: the Saturday Sutton football games. This year though, the team has a new upper hand on their keen competition, and her name is Nivea Santiago. 

Santiago is star-studded #27 and plays safety and special teams for the black and yellow Cougars. Being in 8th grade, the player is at the top of the Sutton food chain and rules the school as the first female football player in Atlanta Public Schools, ever. Football is historically a male-dominated sport, but Santiago and her team are eager to turn over a new leaf when regarding the patriarchal hold that this sport has lacked the luster to break free from. The safety works vigorously and is always happy to listen to directions, and then execute them with ease, while always cheering on her teammates with a smile on her face. “It was my idea to join the team, and I’m so glad I made it. I love my team!,” she said.

Though Santiago is a role model in her own right, no one player can make it big without the support of their team to back them. With that being said, the boys that surround Nivea are always there to protect her, on (and off) the fired-up football field. Head Coach DuPree has worked tirelessly to synthesize a family for the team, one that always has a shoulder (or 96), to lean on. “We will always have her back on and off the field.” Said teammate Damarion Parrot, “She plays with everything she’s got.”

Though Santiago sees herself as a typical teammate, she has truly become a role model for women everywhere and has proven once again that girls can do anything boys can do. Coach DuPree makes sure to emphasize the value of opportunity and all that it can bring to the table. “I’m just so proud of her!” He said, “Everyone just needs an opportunity.”

When all is said and done, one thing bids true for the entirety of those who have a dream and a drive to succeed. As proven by #27, anything is possible! Thank you Nivea Santiago for showing us what we can do, and for leading APS to taking victory and making history.