Being a Patriots fans outside of New England can be a challenge. It's not easy to be outnumbered, especially as an elementary school student in the heart of Chiefs Kingdom the week leading up to Super Bowl LIV.
But two young Patriots fans in Kansas decided their passion and dedication to the Patriots was worth standing out.
When Ava and Maverick Mendoza heard their school in McPherson, Kan., was hosting a Super Bowl spirit week in honor of the Chiefs, they decided they had to represent their team. After all, they had three straight Super Bowl appearances to show spirit for, so they were making up for lost time.
"That's the first thing we said. They were like, 'Wait a minute. Why have we never had a Super Bowl spirit week for the Patriots? Why are we just doing this for the Chiefs? They were just like, 'You know what? We're just going to make this ours,'" Ava and Maverick's mother, Ashley said.
The first day of Super Bowl spirit week was deemed "Mahomes Monday," and students were encouraged to rock headbands for the Chiefs quarterback. With their Patriots shirts and headbands, Ava and Maverick went to school.
Though it was a brave and bold act to show their Patriots pride, Ashley said their teachers and classmates weren't surprised. Ashley's husband grew up a Patriots fan in Kansas, and for Ava, Maverick and their youngest son, Major, being a Patriots fan is a birthright. Ava is the "self-proclaimed biggest Patriots and Tom Brady fan," and all three have never shied away from showing their team spirit.
"They get so much grief at school. We've talked to them and told them, 'You know you're going to get teased,'" Ashley said. "But everybody knows. Everybody knows they love the Patriots."
Despite the playful teasing with their classmates, Ava and Maverick strolled into school on Jan. 27 with their heads held high. Growing up in a family of Patriots fans, they were proud to represent their team -- no matter what.
"They were so proud of themselves, and they walked in like they owned the place. Win or lose, we are Pats fans," Ashley said. "All through the season, all through the year, they've worn their Patriots stuff to school and people tease them even when they win, even they lose. So they knew what to expect. They're just confident in their passion and their love for the Patriots."