Interview with LFL Football Player Monique Gaxiola Interviewed by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com – March 2011
Critical Bench congratulates Monique Gaxiola and the LA Temptation for winning the LFL championship for the 3rd consecutive year! Critical Bench caught up with Monique to discuss what it is like being a 3 time champion, her journey to the top and about her life as a professional athlete.
CB: Critical Bench is here with LFL champion Monique Gaxiola! Monique, how would you compare winning the LFL championship this year to last year?
Monique: "In sports, you simply aren't considered a real champion until you have defended your title successfully. Winning it once can be a fluke; winning it twice proves you are the best."- Althea Gibson
We had an amazing team last year but this season we had a great group of athletes. Winning it this year was so much sweeter because many people doubted us. As the defending champs, we weren't given the respect we deserved when the season started because we didn't have very many returning players. We weren't ranked #1 until the very end of the season. We proved everyone wrong. We bonded well as a team last year but this year it was so much stronger and that played a huge role in our success this season. Being a champ one year was great, but going back-to-to back is an even greater feeling and accomplishment.
CB: That is awesome! Building a dynasty exceeds winning the championship! Way to be an LFL leader on a dynasty! Monique, give us some information about you outside of the LFL.
Monique: I'm a very down to earth woman who has a passion for sports. I am the middle child of 4 brothers. Growing up I was such a tomboy and until this day close friends and family still say I'm a tomboy, just a beautiful one. I try to live every moment like it's my last because tomorrow's not promised. I believe everything in life happens for a reason good or bad because it's all a part of life's lessons. I've been an athlete my entire life and my sports resume continues to grow every year. I played soccer for 17 years and won a National Championship in college at one of the greatest universities, USC, in 2007. I also played for the under 19 and under 20 Women's Mexican National Soccer team for 2 years. I truly miss it but I've found a new sport that I'm just as good at it which is football.
CB: Are you playing in the LFL next year? What are your plans?
Monique: Of course I plan to return next year. I love this game too much and only God knows when I'll be hanging up my knee braces and cleats, but it's not any time soon. Our Commissioner Mitchell Mortaza has expressed that he wants me to become the first LFL female coach in history which means a lot to me. When I do decide to retire I will gladly take that position. Until then you can find me on the field.
CB: Tell us about the best defensive coordinator in the LFL.
Monique: Oh you mean Coach Tui?! Laughing He's a great football coach all around. I thought I knew the game of football prior to joining the LFL, but Coach Tui has taught me so much. He's the reason why I'm such a successful linebacker in this league and why our defense has been successful every year. He truly knows the game and has mastered teaching beautiful, athletic women how to play football. He sees us as football players and not just pretty women trying to play the game. From day one he has given us that respect so in return we've shown him the same. There will never be another coach like him and it's an honor to play for him.
CB: He definitely knows football. What is it like working with coach Tui?
Monique: He's great. He's usually quite calm but when he gets mad he does not hesitate to make it known. We're like family on and off the field. When we need to be put in check or need a little motivation he's always there no matter what. I couldn't ask for a better defensive coach.
CB: What are the best parts of being an LFL athlete?
Monique: The LFL is about athletic and beautiful women all mixed into one. I appreciate the LFL for giving me the opportunity to showcase my football skills because I've been an athlete my entire life. Many young girls and women look up to us as role models which is one of the greatest feelings. We have proven that we can play a man's sport as long as you work hard and stay dedicated. Many professional women's sports are not very successful. So, this gives young girls something to look forward to. Our uniforms cover just as much as beach volleyball players' uniforms do so this doesn't make us any different as athletes. Outside of aspiring women to play football, the glitz and glam off the field are just as much fun as playing. Not only are we admired for our athleticism but also for our beauty. We can be tough athletes while still being beautiful women.
CB: Agreed. Tell us a powerful and favorite moment you had during the LFL season.
Monique: When I see young girls and women who support the LFL, it's such a great feeling. We have given them hope that women can be just as strong as men and can play a man's sport and make it our own. We have inspired women of all ages to embrace their beauty, strength, and athleticism. I've received messages on Facebook and in person from many girls and women stating how they can't wait to try out for an LFL team.
CB: You definitely are an inspiration. How are do you remember your 2009-2010 championship LFL year?
Monique: The YouTube highlights, pictures, and championship trophy. We made history that year being the 1st LFL Lingerie Bowl Champions. We won the championship the first year the lingerie football formed into a league and that's something special I will never forget.
CB: How did you celebrate your LFL victory this year and how are you gonna celebrate later?
Monique: We partied a little in Vegas after our victory with my teammates, friends, family, coaches, and LFL staff. We have a team banquet in a few weeks so that should be our last celebration. We also get a trip from the league, in March, to Cancun for winning the lingerie bowl so we will definitely relax and enjoy ourselves out there as well.
CB: Tell us about your training routine and diet!
Monique: Oh man! I'm not and have never been a very thin girl so I do struggle with weight. In order for me to look good in my uniform I have to work a lot harder than some. In the off-season I lift weights, do lots of cardio, and train with a strength and agility coach. My diet usually consists of high protein/low carb but I'll tell ya it gets difficult at times. Yes, we are athletes but we also have to look tight and toned out there. We can't be looking like actual linemen like the NFL.
CB: What do you say to all the people who are jealous of you?
Monique: The negative people in my life who have always doubted me inspire me. I take all the negative energy and form it into my motivation. My knee injuries have been my biggest personal obstacle and many people doubted my return. This made me want to work even harder because I wanted to prove them wrong and I did.
CB: Monique in the LFL, your performance stands out from the other LFL girls. What makes Monique different from everyone else?
Monique: I live for this game! I take pride in my performance every time I step on the field and I'm my own worst critic. There are very few people that are as passionate about what they do as I am. No matter what sport I've played or anything I do in life I give it my all.
CB: You hit with FURY! Do you have any real sick tackles that you would like to tell us about?
Monique: Every tackle I have is sick. Laughing
CB: There should be a highlight reel of your tackles! Is there anything that you would like to see change in the Lingerie Football League?
Monique: One major thing I would love to see is getting rid of the astro turf we play on in the indoor arenas. It has caused so many major knee injuries and turf scars that are with us for life. Playing at the LA Coliseum, our home field, is such an honor and a privilege. Our field is amazing and I love playing on the grass. There are many other things but I'm going to keep it to that. The league and players are still growing each year and we are all still in a learning process about what kind of changes need to take place.
CB: How have people responded to you being an LFL player?
Monique: From family to friends they have all supported me. My mom and dad are my biggest fans. If they didn't support what I do then I wouldn't be where I am in this league. Now that we're on MTV2 so many people tell me, "Wow, you're so down to earth." Even friends I've known for a few years tell me that even though the LFL has started to blow up, I'm still the same humble person. It definitely boggles my mind because I don't see myself as such a big deal.
CB: I'm sure guys hit on your 24/7. What is it like?
Monique: Laughing Ok I'm going to be completely honest. It doesn't get old, but it's so funny how we really have groupies just like men's pro sports. Facebook and twitter is where guys like to spit game the most. Laughing Shoot, I'm not going to be this young forever and look this good, so I embrace the love.
CB: Good mindset. Do you have a favorite team that you like playing against?
Monique: Last year it was the Dallas Desire because they were our biggest rivals. This year it has been the Chicago Bliss because they were favored to beat us in conference play. Rivalry games are the best. However, I do have to admit playing against San Diego Seduction is exciting because it's the battle for Southern California. Which we're 2-0 when it comes to that.
CB: Earlier in the interview you told me about girls who attempt to contact you who aspire to be LFL athletes one day. What is your advice for a girl who looks up to you who would one day like to become a lingerie football model?
Monique: The sky's the limit! Don't ever let anyone tell you can't, because you can. You can't play for the money, glitz, or glam because you will be quickly disappointed. You have to play for the love of the game. Now go get'em tiger!
CB: You don't play sports like the other LFL girls. Did you play lots of sports with guys growing up?
Monique: I was always running around in the streets or backyard with my brothers playing soccer, football, basketball, etc. It was either play with dolls inside the house alone or tough it out and play outside with the boys. I love all four of my brothers because they're the reason why I'm such a tough young woman. If I wanted to play with the boys they were going to treat me like one. My dad is also a big part of my athletic background. When I played soccer, he coached me when I was younger. He has always been the one to push me beyond my limits in sports. He instilled in my mind that being an average athlete was ok but why not put the hard work in to become a great athlete. He's always said I don't need anyone to pat me on the back to tell me how great I am I should already know.
CB: Monique, tell us about that leadership quality that exists inside of you.
Monique: I lead by example and that's why I think I've been a captain on the majority teams I've played for. Sure you can have a leader screaming and yelling but actions speak louder than words. Teammates respect you more if they see you working hard every time and share your knowledge of the game when they have questions. I'm also not a quitter. I'm such a competitive person that I strive for perfection. When my knee injuries occurred I could've easily given up because that's what everyone around me assumed I was going to do. The doctors were telling me I shouldn't play and that I needed surgery. I didn't listen because I'm not a quitter and I proved them wrong.
CB: Real talk! Love it! I'm gonna list a concept, tell me what comes to mind.
Monique: Bring it on.
I drive…men crazy
Aside from the Super Bowl, my favorite athletic event during the year is…NBA Finals & Dodgers opening day
Favorite NFL Team…Oakland Raiders
My ideal vacation…Tahiti
An amazing personal characteristic about myself is…I'm not a quitter
One physical activity that I like to do is…hike
The amount of kids I want…two
In men I look for…someone who makes me happy & loves me for me, who supports what I do and enjoys the same interests as I do (sports)
My motto to live by…"Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it.
Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it."
When I am stressed I…train harder
Love is…great if you find the right person
Luck is…something that doesn't exist. Everything in life happens for a reason not because of luck. If it's meant to happen it's meant to happen
CB: It has been great interviewing you Monique. Way to change the LFL forever! We can't wait to continue watching you do great stuff for the game in the future. In closing who would you like to thank?
Monique: First and foremost I would like to thank the man upstairs, God. Without him nothing is possible. My mom and dad because they have always supported everything I've ever done. They have taught me life is short, enjoy it, love it, and live it! I'd like to thank my brothers for always being there for me and supporting my LFL journey. I also want to thank them for being so hard on me growing up because it was only for my own good.
My close friends who are like family to me who always show up to our games and support us. I also want to thank our coaching staff for leading us to another championship Coaches Biz, Tui, Scott, and Jason have all been phenomenal these past 2 years. I want to thank the League for giving us the opportunity to play this sport, which I love and can't get enough of. I also want to thank our fans for all of their continued support because without them this league would be nothing.
I want to thank Critical Bench for this interview. And last but not least my teammates! I could not have asked for a better group of beautiful athletic women to go to war with every game. I love you all and forgive me if I've forgotten anyone. Here's to a 3-peat LA! Temptation Nation!