Kendyl Freitas is a nine-year-old tackle football player who is passionate about the game. The fourth grader from Plato Academy Trinity takes the field as a cornerback and even back-up quarterback for the West Pasco Wolverines in New Port Richey, Florida.
Kendyl first spent time on the field as a flag football cheerleader for K-Tech Kraken. Before & after cheerleading, she consistently joined the football players to play around after practice. Filling a recruiting request from the organization’s president, Kendyl’s father asked her if she wanted to play flag football instead of cheer. Kendyl’s football journey began.
Starting with flag and 7v7, Kendyl is now in her first season of tackle football. Kendyl started off as the only female football player in the entire organization. Her decision to play has empowered her community as other girls are realizing their opportunities. Another girl has now signed up in the older age bracket.
Kendyl’s father and coach enjoys the extra family time and loves seeing the change she’s making. “It's so cool seeing her break down barriers and open peoples minds to acceptance. Her confidence is high. She has become a stronger all-around kid.” Kendyl is “still sweet and caring but her mindset is stronger.”
Challenged by other athletes trash talking and telling her that she shouldn’t play or by non-inclusive language from a few adults, Kendyl has continued to show up and work. She doesn’t let it change her love for the game. Even at this young age, she uses their doubt as motivation. She is also supported by a coaching staff that pushes her to be her best. “All the coaches are very accepting and acknowledge her being a girl, but they don’t single her out or allow any different behavior or intensity because of it.”
Kendyl is highly competitive and works hard to grow and get better through nearly daily conditioning and practice. She’s committed to the game and shows it through her work ethic. She continues to add to her skillset by attending football camps. NFL Alumni Tyrone Goodson recognized Kendyl’s standout camp performance:
“The campers who participated in this event worked hard, and some that caught the eye of Goodson were…..Kendyl Freitas. According to Goodson, Kendyl had the best performance and was the only girl participant. ‘She had an amazing athletic ability and was mentally strong to compete against the boys.’ Goodson wrote.” (Quote: Hernando Sun)
While growing in teamwork, strength and skill, Kendyl continues to keep opportunities open for herself. She has many goals for her future, ranging between playing in the NFL and high school cheerleading. Her family encourages her to keep an open mind and be all-in in whatever she does. Kendyl wants to encourage other girls to get involved in what they’re passionate about. “Do what you love.”