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Why one woman started Tucson Ravens Youth Football and Cheer

Posted at 6:47 PM, May 30, 2024

TUCSON, Arizona — On a field across from the Pascua Yaqui Wellness Center, you'll see Tucson Ravens football players at different skill levels. Until recently, you wouldn't have seem them at all.

Inspired by her oldest son, Ashley Garcia is believed to be the first Native America woman to found a football team in Arizona. The Ravens are now practicing for their second season.

"I wanted to help out and do something for my community," said Garcia.

It's a community and family team. Ashley's fiancee, Aaron Bryant, otherwise known as 'Coach Mamba,' is the Ravens head coach. He once played for Cholla High School.

"This will be a foundation stepping stone to where they can be successful in life," said Bryant.

Depending upon their age, the kids play either flag or tackle football. Most of the cheer team is still finishing up their softball season.

"There's pride because this is our land," said 12 year-old team leader Daniel Hernandez. "This is where we come from."

The nine and under team was able to win two games in their inaugural season. The Ravens also experience little wins along the way.

"A lot of the kids here are actually doing better in school," said Garcia.

"My message to them is hard work and dedication all the time," said Bryant.

"Yes, you can do this," added Garcia. "Yes to high school and college. Motivating them to go further in life."

Starting a new program isn't without its challenges. The Ravens do take donations in the form of equipment. They are trying to build on their first season, on and off the field.