LaSpina Makes “Her-story” in High School Football Scene

Samantha Nadler, Sports Editor

During the September 18 Mepham varsity football game at Roslyn, the Pirates aimed to widen their lead with another touchdown. As the quarterback threw the ball to an open player, the nearest wide receiver was successful in making their third catch of the day. Running from the 4-yard line, the receiver was safe in the endzone, and the Pirates earned another touchdown on the box score.

The quarterback was junior Peter Mayo. The receiver, Sofia LaSpina.

Junior LaSpina made history during the Mepham-Roslyn game by catching Mayo’s throw, as she became the first girl in Long Island high school history to ever score a touchdown.

At first, Mayo didn’t realize that throwing LaSpina the ball would make him part of her historic event: “We congratulated her, not realizing she made history. After the game, Coach Cracco told the team that she made history. It was very special for Sofia, and I was so glad to be a part of the moment.”

For Mepham athletic director and varsity football head coach Mr. Cracco, LaSpina’s history-breaking moment could get more girls interested in football: “This could motivate so many people to do something [different] and step out of their comfort zone.”

LaSpina has known Mayo since elementary school, and it felt special for her to share her historic moment with him. “I [really] wanted to catch [the football],” she explained. LaSpina joined the Grand Avenue football team in seventh grade and has played ever since, but this is her first crack at varsity football.

Growing up watching the New York Jets, football grew to become an important part of LaSpina’s life. After her history-making catch at Roslyn, various news networks interviewed her, and she received much attention from the New York athletic scene. LaSpina was lucky enough to meet legendary Jets quarterback Joe Namath, and a video was posted on the Mepham football team’s Instagram page of LaSpina and Namath playing catch. She was honored at a Jets game as their Player of the Week, and during a press conference Jets head coach Robert Saleh was seen wearing a Mepham football T-shirt.

LaSpina’s historic moment saw a new light for female football players, but she was not the first girl on the Pirates’ varsity team in the history of Mepham High School. During their 2018-2019 season, kicker Megan Benzing made a successful punt for the Pirates against Kennedy High School. In an interview with BMB’s Hannah Broxmeyer, LaSpina had no idea that she wasn’t the first female football player at Mepham, but she felt glad to learn this.

Her male teammates and coaches praise her as a fierce player. “Sofia is a fantastic teammate,” Cracco stated. “She works really hard to improve and achieve goals. I think that she is a great role model for people to follow because she made a decision that she wanted to do something and achieve it with a great amount of success.”

LaSpina’s teammate and longtime friend Mayo agrees with Cracco. “Sofia is a great model and competes with all of us,” he said, “and she’s an inspiration for all young girls in sports, especially football.”

“I hope that any girl who wants to play football can have a chance,” LaSpina concluded.