In a 15-second slow-motion video, Diana Flores Arenas looks like a dancer on the field, the ball her partner as she passes it from one hand to another, toing and froing until she reaches the end zone.
The play by this student from Tec de Monterrey’s Santa Fe campus has become a viral phenomenon with millions of views. There have been 100,000 views on her Instagram account.
Pages specializing in flag football, brands, and even media such as Sports Center have contacted her to share her achievement on social media.
This player on the Mexican team had a hard time after suffering a serious injury days before the Italy World Cup.
Her determination made her go ahead and fulfill her dream
She almost heard her ankle snap. The diagnosis, a second-degree sprain and fracture; the treatment, immobilization for a month, just two weeks before traveling to the World Cup in Grosseto, Italy.
She didn’t have to think much about. Diana had a dream, and her decision was made. She wanted to represent Mexico at the international competition held in 2014.
The scene of the fall was a rainy night in Ciudad Universitaria, in the south of Mexico City, where the Mexican team was training.
Lying on the grass, she sought her father’s gaze, who attempted to calm her down from the stands with gestures, encouraging her to get up.
16 years old at the time, this girl from the capital city became one of 12 on the national team, a position she earned from among fifty applicants, as well as becoming the youngest player in an international sporting event.
Without neglecting training and with her days numbered, she went to therapy, submerged her foot in ice water, and her ankle cooperated. Diana and her flags set out on their first World Cup journey.
The spotlight fell on the young woman at the event held in Europe, not only due to her age, but because she stood out against international teams, which made it possible for Mexico to return in fourth place.
Switching ballet for flag football
Diana Flores got interested in playing flag football at the age of 8. Although she was taking dance and ballet classes, she opted for something “rougher” and joined her first flag football team. A passion for flag football was already in her blood, as her father was a football player.
“When I started playing, there weren’t any children’s leagues like there are now. I was the youngest on the team. All my teammates were twice my age. I was playing with 15- and 16-year-old girls,” she says.
In 2012, she was called up at the age of 14 to be part of the North Penn high school team in Pennsylvania, United States, a team she commanded and with whom she won the regional championship organized by the NFL.
“During high school, I used to go back and forth to the United States between tournaments. I was homeschooled those years,” she says.
Now, Diana is 24 years old. As well as her first Italy World Cup, there were those in Miami in 2016, Panama in 2018, and the most recent one in December 2021 in Jerusalem, Israel.
During that event, she debuted as captain and brought Mexico to second place, after a 10-year drought.
The Friday that sealed her fate
She says that fate and love brought her to the Tec. Before starting her Marketing and Communications degree at the Santa Fe campus, Diana was going to study biochemical engineering.
“I was all ready to study at the Polytechnic, where I went to high school. Just before classes began, I was presented with the opportunity of a Tec sports scholarship.”
It was a Friday at 10 o’clock at night, at the end of June, she remembers with emotion.
“I was checking my Facebook profile when I suddenly saw a flyer that said Tryouts for sports scholarships, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Santa Fe campus. The tryouts were the following day at 8 o’clock in the morning.
“I ran to show my parents and my dad told me: ‘Well, I’ll take you tomorrow. Go to bed now.’”
Very early on Saturday, she arrived with her backpack and clips to show off her talent.
“I did my registration and the trials.” She remembers that she was very calm, because at the age of 21, she was already a renowned athlete among the top people in her sport.
Everything happened in one month. She prepared for the Tec admission exams and tests.
She says she was skeptical. “My family and I knew that if it wasn’t a good opportunity, even if I wanted it, it was going to be complicated.” Fortunately it was, and that’s how she joined the Tec in 2017.
“I couldn’t be at the level I am now without all the support the Tec gives me. Here, I receive the best academic preparation, everything I need, and the support to continue training at an international level.”
“I couldn’t be at the level I am now without all the support the Tec gives me. Here, I receive the best academic preparation, everything I need, and the support to continue training.”
The unique and defining moment
Her work on the field shows her determination during the National Flag Football Championship final held by the National Student Sports Commission for Private Institutions (CONADEIP) last May.
That moment was captured and placed on social media; a play that went viral.
“I didn’t expect it to go viral. You aren’t playing hoping there’s someone capturing the exact moment,” she confesses.
“I’m a quarterback, and my role isn’t to run, but at that moment it was, ‘Diana, take it, run, and get the ball forward,’” she says about what was possibly going through her mind. Although, with the adrenaline and passion of the game you only react to the play.
What she is certain of is that her “mind was set” on scoring. “You’re in your zone, focused and in a state of plenitude, aiming for a goal,” she says.
The moment was unique and defining. After a bad start to the game, with a score of 20-6, the second half was all or nothing.
The viral video shows the performance that culminated in a score that put the Tec team above those from Cetys Mexicali. After that dance to the goal line, nothing could stop them. The three-time championship was theirs, with a score of 47-27.
“I’m a quarterback, and my role isn’t to run, but at that moment it was, ‘Diana, take it, run, and get the ball forward.’”
Family and music to disconnect
It isn’t all flag football, school, and viral videos, as well as training every day with the Tec team, classes, and the national team.
A routine that starts at 7 in the morning and ends at 11 at night. Diana gives herself space to enjoy her family, friends, and even practice on the piano.
“My brother also plays flag football, and my sister plays the piano. We’re a very tight-knit family. If my brother has a game, the plan is to go see him play. If my sister has a recital, then we all go to the recital.”
Diana really cherishes and treasures this time together. She remembers her siblings were always there to support her when she was little and had to go to train.
“My parents and my siblings are my biggest supporters and motivation. I remember when I was 12 or 13 years old, I would go with my mother, my brother, and my sister (to training). My siblings didn’t have to be there, but there they were doing their homework on the field, because their sister had to train,” she recalls with a lump in her throat.
But when she wants to put a pause on sport, music is her friend. “I also like to play the piano. It’s one of my favorite hobbies. It helps me disconnect.”
The family they’ve created at Borregos (Rams) is an important part of her life outside the field and school.
“We have a really great connection in the team that transcends training and games. We like to get together. We’re a big Tec family.”
Opening doors for women in sport
Diana’s legacy isn’t just in her tournaments and world championships. It goes further.
“I’m blessed to be the only college player to be on the national team and to be considered one of the best in the world. This position enables me to continue opening doors to more girls.”
“For me, it came about as an opportunity, as fate, but it fills my heart to know that now, girls dream of finishing a degree while they thrive in sport thanks to scholarships like the one from Tec, just because they met Diana Flores.”
She says that she’s not being self-centered, but knowing that someone else is looking to follow in her footsteps made her realize that what she’s doing isn’t just for herself, but for those who’ll come after her.
Diana received the Borrego de Oro (Gold Ram) for her sports leadership, the highest recognition that can be given to a Tec student.
“For me, it represents all the effort, sacrifice, and challenges experienced throughout my professional career, but it also represents the good times, the achievements made, my love for my alma mater, my team, and the people who drive me day by day to be the best version of myself,” she wrote on her social networks.
Flores Arenas hopes to be able to continue with her sports and academic career at the Tec. After graduating, she’s looking to do an MBA at EGADE Business School.
“I’m blessed to be the only college player to be on the national team and to be considered one of the best in the world.”
Her future: continuing to do magic on the field
Her sporting triumphs at Tec taste of glory, but also nostalgia. It’s Diana’s last semester as an undergraduate student, since she graduates from the Marketing and Communication degree this June 28.
With less than a week to graduate, Diana is once again preparing to look ahead and continue doing magic on the field to give the Tec and Mexico a good name.
The Santa Fe campus student’s next challenge is to participate with the sport’s national team in the 2022 World Games, to be held in Birmingham, Alabama, from July 7 to 17.
This is the first time that flag football has been invited to the competition and it has a good chance of being included as an Olympic sport at the Los Angeles 2028 Games, thanks to the boost given by the NFL.
“They’re the first step to something bigger in my sporting career. I’m putting in all my effort, mind, and heart towards continuing to prepare myself athletically and continuing to spearhead (this sport).”
“No dream is too big. Magic happens. You just have to be prepared and make sure you’re ready, at the time and place when your opportunity comes.”
As a marketing and communications professional, Diana is also looking to be on the other side and to play a part in flag football’s history.
She’s currently a member of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), working to give a voice to flag football athletes from across the world, where she collaborates with the IOC (International Olympic Committee).
“To be successful, you mustn’t lose focus, the focus on your dreams, your goals, the focus you’re creating day after day, that what you’re doing today will take you where you want to be in the future.
“No dream is too big. Magic happens. You just have to be prepared and make sure you’re ready, at the time and place when your opportunity comes.” she concludes.