DES MOINES, Iowa — A group of women in Des Moines are among some of the best in their sport in the entire country — and soon, they’re taking their talents beyond the United States border.
The group knows a strong team is held together by a confident leader, and Alejandra Piña does it all.
“I’m captain, owner, founder, CEO and CFO,” she said.
It’s been like this since she formed Escaramuza Quetzalli earlier this year.
“I think we didn’t know at the beginning what huge commitment or responsibility it was going to be," Piña said. "Because none of us have taken vacation since January."
Escaramuza charra is the only all-female event in the equestrian rodeo-like sport of charrería, considered the national sport of Mexico.
Her teammate, Wendy Murillo, loves horses like her teammates and is proud of who she is.
“I’ve been going through ups and downs and craziness with Alejandra,” she said. “I enjoy showing my traditional roots. My parents both come from a small ranch in Mexico. I didn’t grow up around it but I grew up watching it.”
The team is proud of their roots and proud of each other as they hope to inspire others in Iowa.
“In Iowa, specifically, it’s such a male-dominated sport, and we’re the minority,” Piña said.
But that doesn't deter the team.
“I love it. I love showing men that women can do it as well. And I love how we’re also role models to not just other people but to other little girls. Like, we can ride horses and we can ride horses better than the men,” Murillo told Local 5.
Soon, it won’t just be little girls in the United States looking up to them but also little girls with roots like theirs in Mexico.
“We knew we wanted to be a team that took it to the next level, so the goal when we started this, we weren’t just going to be here and do fun shows. We wanted to go out there and compete. That’s why we went to Chicago. We went to Minnesota. Now, we’re going to Mexico," Piña said. "We wanted to be part of something wholesome that took it to the next level and be professional about it."
“Making it all the way down to Mexico to compete, that’s like a huge thing. It’s been my dream since I was a little girl to go and compete in Mexico and compete against some of the best teams out there,” Murillo added.
Discipline and practice has lead the way, no matter where they travel to compete.
“Our coach has whipped us into shape,” Piña explained. “[Mexico] is where the best of the best will be, and for us to just be there in that arena with them is such a huge honor.”
But the winning secret, the heart and soul of this team, is the bond with each other.
“I’m like basically an only child, but now I know what it’s like to have sisters and a huge family,” Piña said.
Piña said their team is always open to new members.