As the only Nova Scotia-based franchise in the Maritime Women’s Football League, the Halifax Xplosion is working towards establishing itself as a contender. While it works towards achieving its championship ambitions, the nascent franchise has also worked towards establishing itself in the community.
One such event was the 26th Annual Halifax Pride Parade on July 27, 2013. A handful of Xplosion members participated in the event as a gesture of support.
While many of the participating athletes have earned MWFL All-Star nods in their careers, they emerged as great pillars of the community by participating in the parade. Women’s football is a unique example of women competing in traditionally male dominated fields. Their participation in the parade showed that while the challenge for inclusion can be difficult, heart and determination comprise a winning formula.
Quarterback Ashley Howatt leads the way for the Xplosion as a four-time All-Star selection. Abbi Hennigar earned consecutive All-Star nods for defensive play in 2009 and 2010.
2012 was a banner year for Lindsay Bennett as she was named an Offensive All-Star while earning the Xplosion Unsung Hero Award. She was joined in the parade by Niamh Bermingham, a two-time All-Star selection on offense.
Terri Smith-Fraser was named to the MWFL All-Stars in 2011. In 2010, Karen Lalonde was an offensive All-Star and was joined by Holly Arthur on defense. Although members Marlene Chickness, Lyndsay Corbin, Angela Howell and Leah Wofsy have no football All-Star status to boast of, their presence in the parade will certainly make them stars in the eyes of many.
While the players donned their traditional navy blue jerseys, an element of fun was added by wearing clown wigs, sunglasses and multi-colored knee-high socks. The socks held special meaning as it meant to represent the rainbow theme that is the symbol of gay pride, one that celebrates and cultivates the optimism that hope, diversity and inclusion will be recognized.
Marking their first-time in the parade, the route started on Barrington Street and moved down to Spring Garden Road and up to Garrison Grounds. Using their helmets as baskets to give out goodies to the children lining the sides of the Halifax streets, Xplosion players donned smiles throughout the event. From miniature flags adorned with the Xplosion logo to candies, t heir souvenirs likely created new fans on this special day.
Another essence of humor was added to the event with some homemade signs that some of the players carried in the parade. With messages that read Girl on Girl Action is All Part of the Game to another that stated Check out our Tight Ends, the signs were another aspect of what made the event a treasured one for the players.
During past parades, the franchise encountered problems with timing that prevented their participation. As some members of the Xplosion have friends, family and athletic associates that are part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Transgendered Community, the chance to join other members of the community in a show of support was a tremendous source of pride.
Helping make the idea a reality was Holly Arthur. An alumnus from St. Mary’s University, she also serves on the MWFL executive as the secretary. In looking to help increase awareness of the club’s existence, Arthur was aiming to find an event that would be fun while helping to contribute to the community. The Halifax Pride Parade met all those requirements.
While the unexpected but pleasant surprise was the fact that the Xplosion were recognized as the ‘Best Community Group’ in the parade, the franchise already has plans to participate next season.