Student Spotlight: Cleonda Perkins and Khushi Saini


(photo by: Khushi and Cleo)

Bianka Balcazar and Sim Saini

Centreville’s freshman football team has two girls, Cleonda Perkins (running back and linebacker) and Khushi Saini (left guard). They started playing football at the beginning of August and have always had a passion for it. Cleonda was inspired by a lot of people but mostly by Ray Lewis, a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, because of his 17-year career and how he always pushed through. It has always been a passion of Cleo’s to play a sport that is not played by many females. Khushi was inspired to join by her older cousin who played for Centreville. Her dad played into the stereotype that “girls can’t play” leaving Khushi with a new found ambition to prove him wrong.  

Some challenges faced by these girls are  that many of the guys on other teams and their own team are bigger than them which puts them at a disadvantage. However, they overcome this by working hard and doing their best by never missing practice and pushing to their limit. Khushi and Cleo both said that the coaches treat them like daughters just like how they treat the boys as their sons. Something they both learned from this experience is that teamwork is important “it takes more than just 11.” In hindsight, they realized that they would be pushed to their limits and there would be no breaks. 

Normally many people get shocked when girls play tackle football, but recently it has been shown that many more girls have started to play football in high school. Rarely do you see girls on college teams or in the NFL, but there has been a drastic increase in the short span of three years of girls on the highschool team. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, of the 5.5 million Americans who report playing tackle football, 10.9 percent are female. 

Cleo and Khushi want to continue playing football throughout their high school career and hope to be in varsity by the time they graduate. Though many people don’t usually want to pursue this after high school, these two girls want to play in college and maybe even strive to play professionally. When asked about how the freshman team was doing they said: “We are working our hardest and giving our all and it has paid off since we are undefeated.”