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'She hits hard': How one St. Johns County 12-year-old found herself in a helmet and pads, on a field with 260 boys

Mia Sanchez is the only girl playing for the Creeks Outlaws. The youth football program consists of 11 teams and 260 athletes.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — What's it like seeing your kid take a shoulder pad to the chest?

"I was so scared," Gladys Gonzalez, whose child plays for the Creeks Outlaws Youth Football program, said. 

But, like other parents, Gonzalez couldn't say no when her youngest child begged her for months to play.

You could understand why she was so nervous.

"She being my daughter he [head coach Kevin Schrader] promised that the team will protect her and I trust them and I trust coach Kevin," Gonzalez said. 

12-year-old Genesis 'Mia' Sanchez is the first girl to play for the Outlaws, a program with 11 teams and 260 athletes, she is the only girl.

"They told me how to tackle and stuff because I didn't know how to so they were just helping me out in the beginning and now I tackle them they tackle me so we're just getting there," Mia said. 

"Oh she hits hard, she hits pretty hard," Mia's teammate, Preston Schrader, said. 

"Once I saw that first hit I was like let me stay away from her," Mia's teammate, Giovanni Castillo, said with a smile. 

Mia didn't just randomly waltz to the field looking to play, in fact she played flag football with Schrader and Castillo, who convinced her to trade flags for pads. 

"I needed them to push me tell my mom that I would be safe and stuff because I don't think my mom was going to let me do it," Sanchez said.

Definitely touches my heart to see kids accept somebody into a crew especially football being typically it's a rough sport and them accepting her as one of their own is really just a beautiful thing," Kevin Schrader said. 

With every hit, Mia's mom clenches her teeth through a nervous smile. But, when the helmet comes off she sees a smile that puts her at ease.,

"She inspires me, she really inspires me," Gonzalez said. 

"I feel like I could inspire girls to do what they want to do if they want to play football they can do it it's what they want to do their goals in life like what they put their mind to they could do," Mia said. 

The sound of pads clashing and whistles blowing mark the genesis of a dream and inspiration for others. The beginning of Mia's journey as a football player.

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