Sports is one of the most sexist industries out there — just ask Megan Rapinoe or any women’s Olympic team for that matter. For Kassandra Garcia, however, her journey through the NFL has involved breaking more than one barrier.
Kassandra Garcia is a first-generation Mexican-American and an NFL executive. More specifically, Garcia is a football management analyst for the Los Angeles Rams and is the highest-ranking Latina in any of the NFL’s 32 front offices.
In an industry where women held only 32.3% of professional management positions in the NFL in 2020, of which only 7% were women of color, Garcia’s rise is a milestone.
After learning from her mother’s hand the meaning of work in her native Tucson, family values would teach Kassandra Garcia that the sky is the limit, despite the idiosyncratic conditioning and gender roles so deeply ingrained in Latino culture.
“Not to generalize, but there’s such a machismo, there’s such a focus on the men in our culture,” Garcia told USA TODAY Sports. “But I grew up so differently. The men are served first, always because we revolve around food. The men sit down; the women serve them. My Nana doesn’t even eat until the men get their second plate. But for some reason, my Nana didn’t treat me like that. She’d serve me along with the men.”
“As much as we focus on the patriarchs, we all know who’s really running the whole family, and it’s my Nana. Then, after her, it’s my mom.”
As the media reported, Garcia first worked in sports as a recruiting intern for the University of Arizona football program, where she went to college. She even went so far as to hand out free T-shirts between innings at baseball and softball games. But with her accounting degree and Excel skills, she became an analyst.
After graduating, she worked for a year for the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. She then accepted a one-year position completely away from sports in Cleveland. But she realized she wanted to pursue football.
She attended the 2018 Women in Football Career Forum and landed back in Tucson, working for the Wildcats under then-coach Kevin Sumlin in the football operations department.
Then Tony Pastoors, the Rams’ vice president of football and business administration, called her.
With the Rams, Kassandra Garcia handles a little bit of everything: ensuring the NFL league office’s compliance with paperwork, operations strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic, and writing contract proposals, among other things.
“I’m stubborn as hell,” Garcia told USA Today. “When someone tells me I can’t do something, it’s game over. This fire inside me burns to prove them wrong. I don’t know if that’s being stubborn, narcissism, ego – and I think about this all the time – but it has driven me here.”
“I have failed so much in this life. All I’ve done is just be brave enough to step into the arena and fail.”
With information from USA Today.