At halftime of last Friday's Homecoming game against Cabrillo, Quincy Valle, a senior on the Santa Ynez football team, had to sprint to the girls locker room, change into a gown and then head back out to the field for the Homecoming ceremony — and do it in fewer than five minutes.
Valle barely had time to catch her breath before she walked down the 50-yard line accompanied by her parents, Linda and Gerry, as one of the queen candidates.
Moments later, Valle was named Homecoming queen, buoyed by the raucous cheers of an approving crowd — the first time a Pirates’ football player was named Homecoming queen.
But Valle didn’t have time to really enjoy the moment (that would come Saturday night at the Homecoming dance at the Buellton Marriott) because she had to make another mad dash to the locker room to change back into her football uniform.
“Friday night I got a lot of text messages from people congratulating me — some from people I don’t even know," Valle said during Wednesday's football practice. "They all said they were proud of me and that I was an inspiration to them. That’s a really, really big reason why I continue to do this. A lot of people are looking up to me so I did it partly for them.
“And the dance was a lot of fun. We had a big turnout, good music, good friends. It was our Pirate family. The Santa Ynez Pirates is a lifetime family.”
Valle is a key player on the football team. She kicks the extra points after every Santa Ynez touchdown.
During the 2018 season, Valle kicked 30 of 31 point-after attempts — the best record of any Channel League kicker. This year, she’s 17 of 20.
She kicked five of those PATs in the first half of the Homecoming game, a game Santa Ynez won 41-14.
"I couldn't have done that without my teammates scoring five first-half touchdowns," said Valle. "All the credit really goes to them."
Valle, a 17-year-old Buellton native, started playing football as a 9-year-old.
“When I was in the fourth grade, my older brother Desi starting playing (youth football). I watched him play and thought, ‘I’ve always been tougher than him — I could do that.’ So I asked my dad. I don’t think that he thought I was serious but he said ‘yes.’” Valle said.
“I played on the line, linebacker and tight end and in my second year of YFL, I started kicking. I played soccer from when I was about 5 until the fifth grade — All-Stars, club and everything — and that helped me with my football kicking. And I’ve played with some of these guys since YFL. (Fellow seniors) Anthony (Gills), Dean (Tipolt) and Tyler (Germani) have been my teammates since I began playing football.”
“Quincy has always been a football player. She played youth football for five or six years before high school. She wasn’t just the girl who decided she was going to play football in her freshman year,” said head football coach Josh McClurg. “It wasn’t weird because she’d been playing football with a lot of our guys since she was 8 or 9 years old. As a sophomore, she started at outside linebacker and was our starting kicker and a team captain on our junior varsity team.
“Quincy is an important part of our team. Her teammates don’t look at her as a girl playing football, they consider her a player. She has the respect of all her teammates. Her personality has contributed to that. She never wanted special treatment. She just wants to be a part of the team.”
“Proving that women can do anything is an understatement when it comes to Quincy,” said athletic director Ashley Coelho, who is also the head track and field coach and an assistant coach on both the girls varsity basketball and junior varsity football teams.
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“She goes above and beyond and excels because of her work ethic and determination to be the best. I've been a role model over the years for Quincy — and in many ways she's been a role model for me. She never gives up, she's a team player, and she bleeds black and orange and represents our Pirate athletics exceptionally well.”
“She’s a tough kid, tougher than people know. She leads by example. If every kid worked as hard as she does, we’d probably be unbeatable,” said McClurg. “She’s really an inspiration to others, has a great sense of humor and is a true patriot — that’s why we chose her to carry the American flag.”
“There are always people that can lift more weight than I can or run faster than me,” said Valle. “But I feel that my work ethic is tops and very few people can compete with that.”
Valle and the Pirates continue their football season Friday night with another Channel League game. This time they play at Dos Pueblos. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Football isn’t Valle’s only passion.
Over the winter she’ll be a leader on the Santa Ynez varsity girls basketball team and in the spring, she’ll try to help her Pirates defend last year’s Channel League track and field championship.
Currently, Valle’s focus is on football and the Pirates’ push to win a spot in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
The Pirates are 1-2 in the Channel League (3-5 overall) with key games against Dos Pueblos (2-1) and San Marcos (1-2) coming up.
“I’m super excited for basketball.” said Valle. “I’m really looking forward to those games.”
And then it’s back outdoors in the spring for pole vault and shot put for the defending league track and field champions.
If the Arroyo Grande football team saves its best for last, concerning the regular season anyway, the Eagles figure to complete an unbeaten — …
“I’m thinking of maybe adding the long jump or high jump this year,” said Valle. “And I used to run hurdles. I’m thinking of maybe getting back into that again. I wish I could play even more sports. I’d love to try volleyball, softball or tennis. But I have to be able to fully commit to a sport. I can’t just commit halfway.
“I love competing and being part of these teams. I want to get as much out of my high school years as I can. I don’t want to have any regrets later in life and I’m just trying to make the most of my time.”
Next year, Valle will head off to college and plans to continue her on track and field career.
“I’ve got a lot of interest from colleges in track,” said Valle. “But if I can’t get a four-year offer for track, then I’ll go to Santa Barbara City College, play on the track and field team and see if I can get into a four-year school after that.”
“She is a standout track athlete in the shot put and discus; however, I know that she could be phenomenal at any event on the track and in the field,” said Coelho. “As we head into her senior year of track and field, I believe she is going to have a lot of offers to pick from for college. She can play any sport in college, but I know that she has a huge passion for the shot put and has been really successful making it to CIF the last couple of years. Quincy is a special athlete, and I am so proud of all of her accomplishments.”
“I love being part of each of these teams. Each team is so different and I feel like I’m building a family with each one,” said Valle. “Now it’s back to football. Our focus is on DP. We have to win the next two to go to CIF. We definitely can do it.”
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