One of the greatest female quarterbacks in the world, Sami Grisafe made the decision to call it a career. Before she leaves the gridiron for good, Grisafe had one more memorable moment in the world of athletics. Along with her Chicago Force teammates, the club was recognized at famous Wrigley Field, home of baseball’s Chicago Cubs.
Prior to the Cubs match versus the Miami Marlins on September 3, Grisafe had the opportunity to step onto the coveted field and sing the Star Spangled Banner. Iroincally, Wrigley is the first stadium where Grisafe saw a professional sporting event.
As the lead singer for The Sami Grisafe Band, she also had the opportunity to sing the anthem before the gold medal game of the 2013 IFAF World Women’s Football Championship. The Huffington Post called that rendition one of the most inspiring versions they ever heard.
Afterwards, Grisafe was followed by Tricia Charbonneau. The club’s field goal kicker was given the honor of throwing the the game’s ceremonial first pitch. Unfortunately for the Cubs, the Force’s winning ways did not rub off on them, as they were bested by a 6-2 tally versus the Marlins.
For Grisafe and her Force teammates, this was a terrific opportunity to gain some well-deserved recognition. Ashley Berggren, another Force member is the only female athlete to have her jersey raised at the University of Illinois (where she was Big Ten Basketball Player of the Year in 1997). At the bottom of the Cubs scoreboard in center field, a display congratulating the Chicago Force represented a watershed moment for the club.
Receiving the big league treatment, the Force have a new fan in Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts, who helped arrange for the pre-game event. Not only did she wear her own personalized Force jersey to the game, but she has even participated in some pre game coin tosses for the club in WFA play.
Of note, this was not the first time this year that a baseball club recognized a great accomplishment in women’s sport. Earlier in the summer, the Boston Red Sox invited the Boston Blades, a women’s hockey team to Fenway Park. Featuring several players that competed at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, the Blades were recognized for their Clarkson Cup champion championship.
For the Force, the 2013 WFA championship game was a defining moment in franchise history. Having lost the 2012 WFA championship, the club wanted to prove it was worthy of winning. With the Dallas Diamonds as the last obstacle, the electricity at Balboa Stadium in San Diego was intensifying.
Having played high school football in California, Grisafe’s final game would bring her back to her home state. After a sparkling season that saw her log 4301 passing yards and 57 touchdowns, Grisafe was definitely the heartbeat of the Force offense. With tremendous drama and anticipation, emotions ran high as both clubs were looking for their first-ever championship.
After Grisafe scored the first touchdown of the game, it would set the tone for the rest of the game. Like John Elway, her final game ended on a championship note while receiving MVP honors. In a convincing 81-34 final, Grisafe shredded the Diamonds defense with an astounding 526 yards and eight touchdowns. The win not only gave Grisafe and the Force their first coveted championship, but it capped off an undefeated season that saw the Force outscore opponents by an astounding 771-128 margin.
After leading the US to its second straight gold medal at the IFAF Women’s Worlds, earning an elusive WFA title, while her band was considered for a Grammy nomination, 2013 shall be a year to remember for the spectacular Sami Grisafe. In addition to her musical ambitions, her career was defined by shattering barriers and ground breaking moments in football (like playing in the first WFA championship in an NFL stadium).
While the WFA has lost a tremendous role model and all-around superstar in Grisafe, her legend will be a building block in establishing a solid foundation for women’s football in America. One of the true originals in women’s sports, Grisafe was more than just an athlete.
Comfortable in her own skin and not afraid to be who she is, Grisafe displayed great courage in publicly disclosing her sexual orientation. In so doing, she proved that the most important thing about women in sport is recognizing them for their athletic ability and character. A winner off the field, she has also established herself as a winner in life, helping to empower and encourage women to follow their dreams.