She traded her cheerleading pom-poms for shoulder pads and played youth football until she was in eighth grade. Now, Legacy’s Dana Benavente is one of the Bud Light Guam Women’s Tackle Football League’s most feared players when she has the ball.

Benavente, who plays on both sides of the ball, was one of the driving forces for Team Legacy’s championship runs. On offense, she runs the show – the quarterback – and, on defense, she is the linebacker. In addition, when the team needed, she was a gifted running back who sometimes dabbled as a tight end.

Unfortunately, an injury occurred midway through the first quarter of the 2018 season opener against the Stunnerz. Benavente tried to make a tackle when one of her teammates came in on the play and accidentally took out her knee. The collision ended up tearing her anterior cruciate ligament.

Benavente knew the injury was bad because she released the Stunnerz player she was trying to tackle. When she hit the ground, she said she felt her slightly separated leg pop back into place. She realized something was wrong when she couldn’t move or straighten out her leg.

“I was carried off the field. I sat on the bench and asked the coach to tape me up because I was ready to go back in,” Benavente said. “I wasted a whole role of tape because when I stood up my leg wasn't stable, and it slipped out of place again. Then, I knew the injury was really serious.”

Following surgery, the healing time was hard for Benavente, who had to take time away from the field. Facing months of therapy, the road to recovery wasn’t easy. However, Benavente decided to do it at her own pace. It was tough, especially when she couldn’t walk for two straight months. But, as soon as she was able, she was back on the sidelines, watching games, coaching teammates and offering tips when needed.

“I shared my knowledge of the game with the girls. I got more satisfied watching the girls utilize what they learned on the field,” she said.

After missing the entire 2018 Bud Light Guam Women’s Tackle Football League season and seven games this season, Benavente made her comeback last Saturday when her team defeated the Steelblazing Saints 26-0.

During that game, Legacy was up 20-0. In the fourth quarter, she displayed her versatility, spotting halfback Jalana Garcia, who in turn threw the pass to Kalanie Martinez for the final touchdown of the game.

When asked about returning to the game against the Steelblazing Saints, Benavente smiled and said she was really excited to step onto the field and play.

“The coaches were really watching me because they didn’t want me to run out on the field to play defense, but I didn’t,” she said. “It felt good playing QB, I just trusted my line to block for me and as much as I want to play defense, I didn’t, I gotta play it smart. “

The championship game is set for next weekend, June 22, as the unbeaten Team Legacy plans to defend its seven-year title streak. Although Team Legacy already has Kalanie Martinez playing as its starting quarterback, Benavente said she's ready to go, willing to play wherever and whenever the team needs her.

To get to the big game, Legacy first needs to take care of today’s playoff match at 11 a.m. against the Steelblazing Saints. The winner will play the winner of the 2 p.m. matchup featuring the Sindalu Raiders against the Island Stunnerz. Both games will be played at the University of Guam field in Mangilao.

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