Monday, June 16, 2008

5 Questions With Ocho Cinco

Becky “Ocho Cinco” Leetch is one of the dedicated players on the Southern California Breakers football team. A native of South Orange County, she went to San Clemente High School and the UHK (University of Hard Knocks) for her education. Today, she has a partner that believes she can do anything and supports all of her sports efforts. Indeed, as I’ve covered the team over the season it is her cheering section that I’ve become most acquainted with. I remember how excited they were to see footage I had got of Becky when we were grabbing a bite after the game. It was really awesome to see that she and the other players had so much support from family and friends.

Becky is a utility player that goes wherever the team needs her; defensive tackle, linebacker, safety, wherever. Since this is not a starting position, she feels that she really has to make the most of the playing time that she gets and prove that she can get it done. At 5’1”, her favorite saying is to “never underestimate the power of little people”. Indeed, she’s been on the right side of a fumble and a tackle throughout the season. In addition, her outlook and attitude are always positive on field and she’s so very excited to be there. Becky was so gracious to be my guest today for 5 Questions.

1. How long have you been involved in sports? What sports did you play as a child, in school, and later on before you joined the Breakers?

I’ve been involved in sports for most of my life. When I was around 7 or 8 my parents got me involved in soccer, and around 10 I started playing softball, which I stayed with up until High School. Once in high school, I was on the cross country and track teams, and started competitive weight lifting in my senior year. I now split my weekends with football (Saturday) and slow pitch softball (Sunday). … and when I find the time, I enjoy catching some waves with my brother at Doheny or San O’.

2. How did you get involved in professional football? What was your motivation? Is there anything you would change about your football career? How long do you intend to play?

I got involved with pro football after I saw an article in the OC Register about 5 years ago. At that time, I had a friend who was playing on an Oklahoma City, OK team, so I kinda already knew that this sport existed, although not in the OC.

My motivation to play, well for the love of the game, of course! Another motivation was from my partner. In her younger days she did all kinds of great things with softball, and experienced things that I could only dream of… until now. By playing football, I am now able to experience these types of things. … you know, articles in papers, and interviews like this, and being on broadcast TV. Without the Breakers, and women’s football, none of that would have ever happened. I now have “stories” to tell.

What would I change…That I would have been given more respect for my knowledge of the game, abilities, and heart instead of being always overlooked due to me being vertically challenged. I stand at 5’1” with my ¼” spikes on my football cleats.

I’m not sure how long I plan to play. Football, and training for football is very time consuming. In the off-season, I’m in the gym 2x a day (5:00 am and again after work) 3-4 times a week, and working out doing field drills 1-2 times a week. While in season, we practice 2x during the week, with practices going until 9:30pm – then my 45 minute drive home and up at 5:00am for work. Saturday practices go from 9:00am – 3:30pm and by the time you get home, you’re so exhausted the rest of the weekend is pretty much wasted. If you truly love the game, you and your family are willing to make these types of sacrifices.

3. What is the most difficult part about playing football for you? What are your fitness and nutrition routines that go along with your sport? How do those change in the off-season versus the regular season?

I wouldn’t say that the game is all that difficult… maybe more of a challenge. I primarily play defense, so you’re having to “read” the offense and in a split second, you have to read and determine if it’s a run or a pass. If it’s a run, you need to find out where they are running the ball, see who’s trying to come out to block you, and get to the ball carrier before you get blocked out of the play. If it’s a pass, you need to drop in to your zone, and see who’s coming in to your zone to cover. Then, once the ball is thrown, getting to the receiver. Eleven helmets to the ball, they say.

My fitness routines (now) are pretty much in the gym twice a day, 3-4 days a week in the off-season. In my first few seasons, I really wasn’t in the gym too much. But since I’ve seen my playing time decrease, I knew that I needed to do something… and that something was to get faster and stronger. While in-season, it’s pretty much a maintenance program and I’m only in the gym a couple of days a week, once per day, 2-3 times a week. V (Vanessa Santillan) told me about this great book during our last off-season that has helped tremendously! (The 52-Week Football training guide)

4. What have been the high points of your football career? Which are your favorite moments?

The absolute greatest highlight of my football career was the very first time that I suited up. I don’t think that anything will surpass that. My most favorite moment was in season 2 when we went 8-0. My most favorite moment which hasn’t happened yet is when I intercept the ball, run it back for a TD, and dive over into the end zone. Football is the ultimate team sport. We couldn’t have gone 8-0 without everyone working as a unit, and I won’t be able to get my pick for a TD if my teammates aren’t making blocks for me.

5. Do you consider yourself a role model? If so, to whom? If not, why? What do you think makes a good role model? What would you tell young athletes about following their dreams?

Yes, I do consider myself as a role model. Every adult should. You never know who is watching you and who wants to emulate what you do. I just need to make sure that what I’m doing is positive.

I’d tell young athletes, and just the youth in general, is to follow your dreams. Don’t be afraid to try anything. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, because of “XYZ”. If you want to do it, do it!! I’m only 5’ 1”. If someone would have told me that I “can’t” play football, I’d have more of an inspiration to do better and to prove them wrong!! I cannot begin to tell you how passionate I am about believing in yourself. Again, I’m only 5’1! I may not get to play much, but when I do, I play as if I’m 5’10”. My heart, and passion for the game supersedes my small stature.

And by the way – her most favorite moment that hasn’t happened yet almost came to fruition on Saturday. She wrote me to let me know the details: It was towards the end of the 4th quarter and the Tucson Monsoon was inside of our 20. I was playing out outside linebacker on the short side of the field. Val Correa (21) was playing corner. Val picked off the pass (in the meantime, I was running in the direction of the pass). The receiver grabs Val by the back of her shirt and she was pretty much dead in the water. I was coming over to block the receiver off Val, when Val backwards laterals the ball to me. There is nothing but green for the next 80 yards!! I watch the ball into my hands, but I just couldn’t get a good grip on the ball and I didn’t catch it. Three of us ended up falling on the ball so we got to keep it. We ended up just taking a knee to run out the clock.

The Breakers won their final game of the season on Saturday by a score of 24-6.


Lindsay said...

It was interesting to hear about Becky. It's motivating for me to read about a professional athlete who has made so many sacrifices in order to play her sport.

Apryl DeLancey said...

I know - I feel lazy in comparison!

Becky (ocho cinco) said...

Thanks Lindsay. The sacrifices that are made are totally worth it on game day. It also helps to have a supporting family that lets you follow through on your dreams.

terri said...

Way to go Becky! Next year you will make that TD. Keep up the good work.