South Fork Athlete Spotlight: Noelia Alatorre

Senior midfielder Noelia Alatorre (right) battles for the ball against Fortuna last fall. [Photo by Suzanne Van Meter]

Noelia Alatorre started playing organized sports later than many of her athletically inclined classmates in the South Fork High School Class of 2017, waiting until her freshman year in high school to join the soccer team and her sophomore year to join the basketball team. She accelerated quickly, serving as team captain on five different squads and earning all-conference honors in both sports.

A generation ago she might not have played at all, but now she is part of a wave of young Hispanic female athletes who are making themselves known on high school campuses all over the North Coast.

Noelia is a frequent flyer on the honor roll, has participated in a wide variety of community service projects and plans to attend college to go into dentistry. We had a chance to visit with her recently about her athletic career and the changing attitudes toward Hispanic girls competing in organized athletics in our community.

Noelia Alatorre takes care of the ball against Hoopa last winter[Photo by Janice Coffelt]

“When I was a freshman I didn’t notice as many Latina girls playing as I do now. Nowadays it seems like there are an even number of whites and Latinas playing” While Noelia never experienced discouraging attitudes towards her participation within her own family, “a couple years ago I feel like I noticed it with people  around me.”

However, she feels things are changing and doors are opening for Hispanic girls in the sports world. “I do think Latino males are becoming more open-minded about females playing sports. There are some guys that always think they’ll be better than girls in sports and there are others that treat girls the same and just as fairly as other guys.”

When asked if she ever sensed prejudice among coaches, officials or teammates in sports she replied, “I personally don’t think I’ve been treated differently by white coaches or teammates. There have been close ones around me that feel otherwise. But with refs, I sometimes have felt I was being treated differently, but I am just assuming, I don’t know for sure.”

With opponents she has noticed some hostility. “Playing against American girls, I’ve experienced racism and being threatened and told to go back to where I came from, even though I’m from here. Other rude things have been said, all because we were opponents.” Nevertheless, Noelia’s passion for sports never suffered because of these negative comments or attitudes, and she continued to play

Co-Captain and midfielder Noelia Alatorre battles for the ball against her opponent from McKinleyville last fall.

Noelia intends to keep up with sports after her graduation in June. She wants to play community college soccer and basketball. Beyond that: “In the future I want my nieces and daughters to play sports. I will probably tell them not to let any male or anyone else tell them they can’t play because they’re female or Hispanic. Anything a male can do, a female can, too.” <

South Fork has benefited from Noelia’s talent, leadership, intense spirit of competition for four years. “My high school experience of playing sports has been amazing,” she says. “I wouldn’t have let anyone tell me I couldn’t do it just because I was Hispanic.”

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7 comments

  • Over the score of years that I’ve been following South Fork soccer and other sports I have noticed a slow but sure change in attitudes toward young women playing sports and it has been a good change.Referees are less condescending, coaches are more demanding, and young men are more appreciative. Thanks to courageous athletes like Noelia, attitudes toward Latinas have changed even more rapidly as we all have come to see that it was wrong to let the boys have all the fun. Informal “co-ed” games have proven the point to both genders. It’s only going to get better.

  • Marling McReynolds

    I am so glad young women have such opportunities now. When I went to South Fork the only ‘sport’ I could letter in was tennis, which I did.

  • All sports should be co-ed.

  • Who would tell some that they can do something because there Hispanic? That’s ridiculous

  • “Playing against American girls, I’ve experienced…”
    Noelia, you are American. Hold your head high.

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