Armenta becomes first woman to play in HBCU D1 football game

September 27, 2023 / Athletic AdministrationCoachingFootball
Following a rash of injuries to the team’s kicker position, Jackson State University looked to the women’s soccer team for support.

They turned to Leilani Armenta, a freshman defender on the women’s soccer team who possessed high school experience, serving as a placekicker for Saint Bonaventure High School in California.

armentaIn her varsity career at Saint Bonaventure, Armenta made 98 out of 105 PAT attempts (2 blocked) and made all 5 of her field goal attempts. She also tallied a total of 3,552 kickoff yards, including 2 touchbacks and 3 onside kick recoveries. Her skills earned her five county kicking records.

“Our back was against the wall, and I had to find somebody,” Taylor said. “I talked to Dr. Ted (Flogaites), our championship (women’s) soccer coach, and they had a young lady we call now ‘L.L.’”

Armenta became the first woman in HBCU Division 1 history to appear in a game when she booted the opening kick-off against Bethune-Cookman.

“I talked to her the first day I got her out there for practice,” said Taylor. “She understood the responsibility. I also talked to her parents. They were very excited. She loves the game of football.”

When Armenta appeared on the field for Jackson State on Saturday, she became the first woman to suit up for the Tigers in program history.

“It means a lot to me,” she said. “It opens up opportunities for girls at other schools to show what they can do.”

She handled several kickoff attempts, though never was called to try an extra point during the Tigers’ 22-16 win over B-CU. Armenta was eventually replaced on kickoffs by backup running back Emari Matthews.