To break through the ceiling, it helps if you can jump -- especially when it comes to basketball.
"When I was younger, I didn't realize dunking isn't something girls do," Regis Jesuit sophomore Francesca "Fran" Belibi said.
Belibi is now flying well above everyone's radars, after her historic accomplishment last week. While the Raiders varsity team was taking on Grand Junction, Fran found herself on a breakaway early in the game.
“She went up for the steal and was coming in, and I just thought, okay, she’ll lay it in over the rim," Regis head basketball coach Carl Mattei said.
Instead, Belibi threw down a thunderous dunk, the first ever in a Colorado high school girls' basketball game.
“The hoop really was close enough, so I just decided to go for it," she said. "For it to happen in a game the way it did, it's just a great opportunity. I'm really happy it happened."
But even after it happened, Fran had no idea of the magnitude of her actions. The moment was caught on camera and posted on social media that night. Since then, it has been viewed at least 2.5 million times online, and was even named the top play on ESPN SportsCenter's top 10. While Belibi is aware her play made headlines, to what extent still remains unknown.
“I don’t have social media. My teammates have been sending me screen shots and showing me what’s going on, but I’m not seeing it firsthand," she said.
At 6'1, Fran stands closer to the ground than many others who can dunk, but perhaps it's that proximity to the floor that helps her keep this newfound fame in perspective.
“At the end of the day, it’s a dunk, but it’s also a long season, we also have a lot of games, we’re just trying to win and get ourselves in position to win state," she said.
What's even more shocking than the dunk to some is the fact Belibi is also fairly new to the game. As a freshman, she tried out for the Raiders' team for fun. She actually grew up playing tennis like others in her family. This past spring, Francesca placed third at the 5A state tournament in the No. 3 doubles. It's obvious now, she was also meant to be on the court.
"It's a gift, I told [Fran's parents], I've coached girls for 26 years. I've never seen a girl do things like she's doing on the court with not being taught," Mattei said.
"I call myself a freak of nature. Everyone in my family is either really tall or really fast or can jump really high," Francesca said. "I just got it in this weird mix of a package, and I guess it helped me out in the end."
Since the dunk, Belibi's basketball stock is soaring -- much like when she's heading to the rim. More than 210 college coaches reached out to Mattei after seeing the video of her dunk.
“To go from just picking up a basketball being a tennis player, to becoming maybe one of the best players in the country -- because she’s so grounded, I don’t think she realizes how much she’s improved in ten months,” he said.
For someone so grounded, Fran sure can take flight.
“I almost never dunk on the first try and it’s never as clean and as smooth as that dunk was,” Belibi said.