La Vega, the all-girls barbecue team at the Natls.

BELLMEAD, Texas (KXXV) — The Firecrackers are an all-girls barbecue team from La Vega High School. They finished in the top seven at the national high school barbecue championships this year.

  • La Vega ISD has created competitive barbecue teams to provide new programs that bring out different talents in students who were not drawn to traditional sports.
  • Outside of competitions, the team prepares barbecues for the school’s football games, which are enjoyed by fans.
  • All members of the grill team must have a license to handle food.


“I didn’t expect it to be a big deal, but at the end of the year I thought this was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done with the school,” said new junior Leilani Silva.

Silva is one of five girls on the Firecrackers, La Vega High School’s all-girls barbecue team. She says the team is like a family.

“I’m really close to the other girls now. They are some of my closest friends and are also my coaches,” said Silva.

“I know I can come to them with anything, even if it has nothing to do with grilling.”

Lazaiah Marmolejo, another new junior on the team, says she agrees.

“I see them more as my sisters than anything else – I see them as family,” Marmolejo said.

The girls say that many of them grew up grilling in the family, but never did it themselves until they joined the team.

Now it’s a way to stay connected with their community and families.

“Before I joined and told my parents, my grandfather had died – I was younger. When I grill, I tend to do it for him because he likes to grill,” Marmolejo said.

“I see it more as something for him and my family.”

County Administrator Andre Watkins says barbecue connects people of all ages and passes the torch from one generation to the next.

“I think it’s great to use old school methods along with some new school tools so that adults can teach young people a skill that they can then pass on to other young people when they’re older,” Watkins said.

Last month, the Firecrackers made it to the state championships for the second year in a row – they were among the top seven all-girls barbecue teams in the country.

“We were able to show other people that grilling is not just a boys’ sport, but something for everyone,” said coach Trevor Freeman.

Follow Bella on social media!

More stories by Bella Popadiuk