If you don’t already know Santia Deck’s name, you probably will soon. In December, Deck became the first woman to sign a multimillion dollar football contract when she joined the Los Angeles Fames, becoming the face of the Women’s Football League Association. But she’s not just a football player. After growing up in Houston with three football-loving brothers, she went on to run track at Texas A+M and even had dreams of qualifying for the Olympics.
But after injuries shattered that dream, she was forced to hang up her track shoes for good. One day, she saw a sign for a local flag football team’s open practice session and decided to check it out. The rest, as they say, is history. She shined on the field, earned a spot on the team, achieved viral status on social media, and made the U.S. national flag football team. From there, she went on to play rugby for the U.S. women’s national rugby sevens team
And along the way, the “Queen of Abs” continued to grow her following on social media — she currently has 666K followers on Instagram — by posting workout routine videos. In 2016, she published a book, raising awareness about child abuse, and she even started her own sneaker company, Tronus, becoming the first female athlete to do so. Now, she’s being featured on Eastbay’s conqHER platform, as a woman who is breaking boundaries in sport.
We caught up with the 28-year-old superstar to learn about how far she’s come and find out why she refuses to slow down.
First off, you signed a big contract to play in the Women’s Football League Association with the Los Angeles Fames. Did you always love football? How did your love of the sport first begin?
I’m from Houston, so all my brothers played football. You know in Texas, football is like everybody’s life. So having three brothers and then one being my twin, it was like naturally around me. They all played football, they all were running backs — I’m also a running back. So I guess I was kind of pushed into it without me really knowing because I was outside running routes, catching footballs, tackling, doing everything with them but it wasn’t something that I was like, “This is something I want to do long-term.” It was kind of, like, for fun for me because I was so into track.
Honestly, football didn’t really become a passion for me until about six years ago when I started playing flag. But it was crazy — like I knew a lot of stuff because when I was young, my brothers were teaching me things that I didn’t know I was going to use one day.
So you were a track star in college and now you’re playing professional football. How does your experience as a track athlete help you with football?
Oh man, being a track runner has honestly been one of my biggest tools as far as just being a running back, because you have to be fast, you have to have just running form period — coordination and things like that — and I feel like track taught me that. But being a running back, I feel like track is the best thing you can do, to be honest, to prepare for that position. It was a little different as far as learning how to be agile — because you know, we’re running in a straight line for the most part. But that also came naturally just because of what I was doing when I was young.
But track literally gives me my edge because most people know that if somebody runs track, they’re probably going to be good at most sports, to be honest. So I owe a lot to track, for sure. That’s my foundation.
You also have your own sneaker company, Tronus, which makes you the first female athlete to own your own shoe company. Have you always been into sneakers? How did this idea originate?
I definitely thought about [having my own shoe] a lot, but I never thought about having my own company. And how the opportunity came about was another brand had actually offered me my own signature shoe — the designer mocked up a shoe, I posted it on Instagram, and it went really, really crazy. So we kind of went back to the drawing board, and thought what if we did a signature shoe line with a variety of colors and things like that. And I was like, “Cool,” so we talked about how we wanted the design to look, he mocked it up, I posted it a second time and it went even crazier.
So then my mom, who’s also my manager, was like, “Let’s rethink this whole thing. If you’re getting this much buzz and this many people that are ready to buy this right now, imagine what would happen if you had your own company?” And at first, I was like, “Eh, that’s a little far-fetched,” think about the big dogs we have to go against like Nike, Adidas, Puma, all these really, really major brands. And I was like, “I don’t think that’s possible.” And my mom, she’s always thinking twenty thousand steps ahead, and she thinks I can literally do anything and she kind of talked me down and told me, “You can do this. It’s possible.”
And I remember just going back and sitting with myself and just being like, “OK, if I fail, at least I tried. If I don’t fail, I will have my own shoe company.” And so that kind of outweighed my fear and I just said, “OK let’s do it.” And two years later, Tronus now exists.
That’s why we need moms, right? That’s amazing. Now, you’re 28 years old, but you’ve already accomplished so much in so many different fields. How do you have all this energy to keep hustling?
So, I’ve always been a very ambitious person since I was a kid. I have so many dreams and goals for myself, and I don’t have any kids yet but I think about how everything that I’m doing is really for them. I want to leave a legacy, and I want to secure their futures and their future kids’ futures, and that it probably one of the main reasons why I went ahead with the shoe line because I was like, “If I do this, I’m not only securing my future, but I’m also securing [the future of] generations to come.” That’s probably my main driving point — man, I just want my kids to have everything that I didn’t have and more. And I just want to show young girls — just really the youth, period — that anything is possible.
And clearly that work has paid off. You’re being featured in Eastbay’s conqHer platform as a woman that done things that were maybe previously unthinkable in the world of sports. What do you want girls all over the world to learn from seeing you accomplish so many firsts in a male-dominated world of sports?
The thing for me — and this is something I would say to my daughter — if you want something, you need to go get it. No matter what it takes. No matter how much sacrifice, no matter how many friends you’re going to lose or if people are not going to understand what you’re doing or think you’re crazy because honestly, you have to be a little crazy to dream big anyway.
But I would tell them that the limit in life is what you put on yourself. So if you want to go and be the first female doctor to also be a surgeon to also be a ballerina, then go for it. You can be good at more than one thing, you can be successful in more than one area — because I also feel like that’s something that we put on ourselves like, “Oh, I can only do one thing.” But I never believed in that. I always felt that if you want to do 20,000 different things and be god at them, then do it. But do what it takes and understand that it’s going to take sacrifice and understand what’s going to come with that.