Spotlight on: Ana Rosa Alvarez Flores

By Jasmine Rogers

This profile was written in 2012.

Today the spotlight is on Ana Rosa Alvarez Flores. The story of Ana Rosa Alvarez Flores is riveting, full of intrigue, and truly inspirational. My hope is that this story will give you a taste of Alvarez Flores’ amazing journey to become a football player.

Ana Rosa Alvarez Flores’ grandmother came to the United States when she was in her thirties, during a time of civil war and unrest in her home country of El Salvador. After enduring the deaths of her first and second husbands, she came to the United States with her six children, ranging in ages from eight to 18.

Alvarez Flores’ grandmother constantly reminds her of the struggles she faced in her home country. She would make pots out of dirt, sell water to field workers, and eat salt and tortillas just to survive. As a child, her grandmother would make underwear out of potato sacks, donated by people who knew she needed clothing. Alvarez Flores’ father shares similar stories about taming wild horses and bulls to earn money to survive.

At the age of 17, three years after arriving in America, Alvarez Flores’ mother gave birth to her. She raised little Ana Rosa for five years before giving her to her grandmother so she could work and get her life together. Growing up in her grandmother’s house, Alvarez Flores shared a six-bedroom house with 30 people and shared a bed with her cousin and grandmother. In her childhood, Alvarez Flores was the oldest of all of the grandchildren, so she became responsible for helping to babysit her ten cousins.

Growing up in a traditional El Salvadorian home, being an athletic girl wasn’t encouraged. But Alvarez Flores knew she wanted to be a professional athlete one day. Her father, a former pro soccer player, would make her run 20 laps around the baseball field every day, rain or shine. He always said, “Ana, if I teach you how to do things for yourself, you’ll never need a man to do it.”

Her father instilled in her the values of hard work and persistence that would later translate into an academic scholarship to George Mason University. As a child of parents who didn’t make it past elementary school, Alvarez Flores became the first child in her family to go to college.

Given the opportunity, Alvarez Flores would talk for days about how grateful she is to be here in this country. Her family has embraced the struggle they experienced as a reminder of how generous and blessed this country is. To go from a country that was killing its own people to a country where women can play football is truly amazing.

On April 14, 2012, Alvarez Flores had her dream of being a professional athlete come true when her mother and father watched her play in her first ever women’s football game. Even though the Divas lost by one point, you would have thought they had won the championship by the way her parents were beaming. With tears in their eyes, they told Ana Rosa how proud they were of her.

Alvarez Flores said, “Sometimes Americans don’t realize how amazing this country is. It truly is the best country in the world. Anyone’s dream can come true as long as they are willing to put in the work.”

“I think if we were to ask each woman on our team to share their story, each person would surprise us,” she continued. “At every practice, I sometimes catch myself looking around and admiring all the strong women that surround me, thinking, ‘Wow, this is so awesome!’ I never thought in a million years that I, a girl from Annandale, VA – raised by the most traditional Salvadorian grandmother God could have blessed anyone with – would be playing football.”

Spotlight on: Ana Rosa Alvarez Flores

How did you get started playing football?
A college buddy of mine asked me to join his girlfriend’s flag football team, and I met a few other teams and joined all the teams that would have me. After my first game, I was hooked. There I met the coolest group of people ever! They totally took me under their wing and taught me a few things, and the rest is history.

What is your biggest accomplishment in sports?
Becoming a D.C. Diva for sure! After high school teams and college intermurals, I figured the only competition I was going to see would be in a recreational league. After playing a few years in a recreational league, I always wished I could just take it to the next level. Finally, my teammates at the time insisted that I try out for the D.C. Divas. I was a bit hesitant, but after much convincing, I decided the worst thing they could say was no…luckily for me, they didn’t!

What did you expect when you found out you made the team?
I knew I had to prepare myself for something I had never experienced, so I knew I had to make sure I had an open heart and an open mind.

Have your experiences so far matched up to your expectations?
Far more than that. I walk onto the field and see my family and friends in the stands, and I thank God He picked me to have this experience! Like I always say, “Who would have ever thought?”

What was your biggest adjustment to football?
Hitting someone intentionally and not getting in trouble or thrown out of the game for it!

What is your favorite football memory/moment?
My favorite moment with the Divas is a tie between getting my first interception against the New York Sharks and running on the field with the team banner!

What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge?
I think my biggest challenge has been having to convince doubters that women’s full-contact tackle football is exactly that: women’s full-contact tackle football.

Take me through the emotions of getting your first career interception against the New York Sharks.
I remember catching the ball and thinking, “This is so awesome…I can’t believe it’s really happening to me!” By the time I said all that in my head, I got shoved out of bounds. All of my teammates ran over to me, and all I remember saying is, “I love you guys. You are all so awesome!” I am just so grateful to be able to experience playing with such a great group of women. Women’s sports in El Salvador is nowhere near what it is here in the United States. I am so grateful my parents decided to come to this country, and my country, the U.S.A., has blessed me with so much. If I would have been born in El Salvador, I would have never received a college education and I would have never been able to live out my dream to play a great sport like American football.

What does it mean to be a Diva?
To me, being a Diva is about embracing being a woman…to not forget who you are off the field and to always be proud of the athlete you are on the field.

What was the best advice you were ever given?
“Don’t take it personally.” Football has taught me to have tough skin. Not only do you have to be physically tough, you have to be mentally tough as well.

What’s your favorite quote?
“The decisions you make dictate the life you are going to live.”

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Seeing my family and friends proud of me and knowing I can serve as an example to other Salvadorian women. No matter how traditional your family may be, being a strong woman is not wrong. Subservience to men is not the only way life is supposed to be for a woman.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I used to be a Latin dance instructor. I was a Catholic Sunday school teacher for six years. I have seven tattoos and five piercings. The town my family is originally from – Conchagua, La Union, El Salvador – has an annual celebration, and I was chosen as the celebration’s queen to represent the residents of Maryland, D.C., and Virginia.

About Ana Rosa Alvarez Flores

Name: Ana Rosa Alvarez Flores
Age: 25
Hometown: Annandale, VA
Educational Background: Degree in religious studies and communications at George Mason University
Profession: Teaching Assistant
Years Playing Football: Flag 3, Tackle 1 (first year)
Sports Participated in: Soccer, basketball, flag football, dodgeball, softball
Total Years in Sports: 20