Angel Roman (FR/Jacksonville, Fla.) wanted to play football with the boys. She had watched them play and had no doubts she could be one of the guys on the field.
Her mother, though, cast the vote that counted.
"I actually wanted to play tackle football when I was younger," Roman said. "I started in a youth club at the YMCA and started playing with the boys and had fun. But my mom didn't let me so she signed me up for flag football."
A fourth grader at the time Roman didn't let the disappointment slow her down. She became a two-sport athlete, playing flag and basketball – an endeavor she began while in the third grade.
Roman was successful in both, enough so to earn scholarship offers from Kansas Wesleyan women's basketball coach Ryan Showman and flag coach Mike Famiglietti.
Despite her diminutive 5-foot-2 stature Roman has enjoyed a productive freshman season on the court and field, making her a rare two-sport athlete at the collegiate level.
"She's someone who really doesn't accept anything less than the best in anything, which can make it really tough to do multiple sports," said Famiglietti, who's in his second season in the program's second year of existence.
Roman was Wesleyan's back-up point guard in basketball, playing behind starter LaMyah Ricks. She played in all 32 games (11.3 minutes per game) and finished with a 3.7 scoring average – her season high 16 points against York on February 21 inside Mabee Arena.
Roman's efforts in flag this spring have been impressive. She earned First Team All-Kansas Conference honors as a wide receiver and defensive back and was an Honorable Mention selection as a utility player.
She tied for the team lead with 28 receptions for 297 yards and six touchdowns and ran the ball seven times for 64 yards in conference play. Defensively she led KWU with 41 flag pulls and a team best eight interceptions and eight pass breakups.
Roman's success is the result of two primary attributes – speed and fearlessness.
"She's not the biggest player but she's never scared of anybody on the field," Famiglietti said. "She definitely has the ability to make people miss when she has the ball on offense and she's a very reliable target at receiver. On defense she's an absolute ballhawk, gets after every flag, gives constant pursuit and is starting to take a little bit more of a vocal leadership role."
"When I see the ball, I'm going to attack it," she said.
Roman said it took time to adjust to life on the basketball court while going against bigger and older opponents. It didn't stop her, though, from frequently driving to the basket for shots against much taller defenders.
"I've always been on the small side but I don't let it faze me," she said. "As I got more experience I got used to the pace and how you play at that speed."
Finding time to train, practice and compete in two sports is problematic and that's before factoring in classes and everything they entail. Life was somewhat hectic during the first couple of months of second semester.
"January, February flag was starting practice but basketball was starting the playoffs," Roman said. "So, it definitely conflicted a little bit but basketball took over since it was in season."
She made it work, though.
"Time management. I've never really struggled to keep up with it but it's definitely not something that everyone can do," she said.
Famiglietti said there are other factors as well.
"I think having very supportive teammates and coaches really makes it possible for her," he said. "Angel is just an incredible person and wants to do the best for as many people as possible and is why she can really succeed."
KWU takes an 8-7 record into the NAIA Women's Flag Finals this week in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Coyotes play Webber International (Fla.) at 8 a.m. Thursday in their first game.
KWU lost its first two games in last year's event but battled back and won its last two games to claim the Silver Bracket.
"I think that gave us a high standard and showed what we could do this season," Famiglietti said. "We all worked together as a team."
Flag Football is at Emerging Sport status in its second year of existence at the NAIA level, but is on track to become an invitational-level sport and eventually a National Championship sport in future seasons.
Expectations are much higher this week.
"We're a better team than we were at the beginning of the season and we're definitely excited to make some noise and want to compete for it all," Famiglietti said. "That's our big goal and we've been working hard every step of the way this season to be there."
Count Roman among those eager to play.
"It's definitely a big opportunity so I'm definitely excited," she said.