SAN ANTONIO – When Danielle Gonzalez got to John Jay High School, she had no idea that she would later become the first ever female cadet to make the JROTC Silver Eagles Drill Team.
“I was always just like just come to school, study hard and then just go home and relax and then my brother introduced me to the JROTC and he ended up performing one day at our own drill meet and I ended up just falling in love with it,” said Gonzalez.
Like every well-decorated cadet, Gonzalez had to crawl before she could walk.
“I began practicing as much as I could,” said Gonzalez. “I joined the Marching Mustangs and became the deputy commander of it. Then I became the commander of the color guard.”
Before she knew it, she was running to earn a spot on the Air Force JROTC Silver Eagles Armed Drill team. It is a team that was established in the 80’s and restricted any female from joining due to the physical strength and ability needed to perform sufficiently.
“I have always been a challenging person,” said Gonzalez. “So when I first joined the team they were like, 'No girl is going to make it,' and I was like, 'I am going to change it.' My freshman year, I was like 'I am going to do it and I am going to prove them wrong.'”
Already having an athletic background playing sports like basketball, volleyball, cross-country and more, Gonzalez excelled in her training to try out of to be a Silver Eagle.
“It looks easy,” said Gonzalez. “Some parts look easy but it is the most challenging thing I have ever been through.”
When she finally earned a spot, Gonzalez said she was in shock but knew she still needed to still gain the trust of her male teammates.
“When I first came on I had to earn their respect and gain their trust,” said Gonzalez. “I was treated no different and I was like push me hard. I want to be able to do it on my own.”
Now, they are one big family.
“They are all my brothers,” said Gonzalez. “We started hanging out more and training more and just having a good time to where we are a family. They are very protective of me and we make sure we hold each other accountable.”
Gonzalez’s strength, determination, and team effort are major spins for What’s Up South Texas.
“Never let anybody tell you that you can do anything and just take it and prove them wrong,” said Gonzalez.
If you know someone like Gonzalez who is making a difference in the South Texas community or who has a unique story, send us your tips. Contact Japhanie Gray on Facebook or @JGrayKSAT on Twitter. You can also send your tips to KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Facebook.