The early days of January 2014 proved to be a continuation of the remarkable traction that the Chicago Force have gained during an historic 2013. Earning proclamations from the City of Chicago, County of Cook and the state of Illinois, it was a celebration of their remarkable achievements.
After an undefeated season during Women’s Football Alliance regular season play, the Force capped it off with a national championship victory over the Dallas Diamonds. This historic first title in franchise history was complemented by nine Force players (along with three coaches) that helped the US grab the 2013 IFAF Women’s World Championships.
Force players were greeted by Alderman Bob Fioretti and Mica Matsoff, a senior advisor from the Governor’s Office. The ceremony also served as an appropriate time to honor the squad with their WFA championship rings.
Dubbed “Chicago’s best kept secret” by Fioretti, the Force were one of three teams based in the Windy City to capture championships. Another female football team captured the Legends Cup, marking the first time that a city has had female football teams capture the WFA and LFL titles in the same year. In between these historic events, Jonathan Toews captained the Chicago Black Hawks to its second Stanley Cup title in four seasons.
Perhaps the most special aspect of the proclamation ceremony was the fact that remarkable on-field accomplishments were also recognized. Of note, conference awards were bestowed upon Sami Grisafe (offensive player of the year) and Darcy Leslie (defensive player of the year).
Quarterback Sami Grisafe had another banner year, throwing for 4,301 yards and 57 touchdowns (more TD passes than Petyon Manning threw in his record-breaking year). Darcy Leslie continued to serve as a defensive stalwart for the Force posting 96 tackles, of which 28 were for loss. Such contributions resulted in the Force outscoring their opponents by an astounding 771-128 tally.
From a leadership standpoint, recognition was also bestowed upon head coach John Konecki and owner Linda Bache. Konecki earned a unique triple crown as coach in 2013. He would lead the Crete-Monee high school boys’ football team to an Illinois State title. This was followed by serving as the head coach for Team USA in a gold medal effort along with winning the elusive WFA title. His accomplishments should place him on the radar of several NCAA programs.
Bache, a former player with the Force, was named Owner of the Year by the WFA. As the Force have qualified for the postseason in 10 of their 11 seasons in existence, Bache has served as a key component in such success. She also had the privilege of being honored with the team at Wrigley Field in late summer 2013, prior to a Chicago Cubs contest.
Before the 2014 season can begin, there is another unique event to honor the team. A non-profit production titled The Tackle Girls followed the US women’s football team en route to world dominance at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds. In addition, the documentary follows the players back to the US as teammates at the international level become rivals back in the WFA.
Featuring music from Sami Grisafe, the film shall prominently feature several Force players, as their accomplishments are captured on film, preserved for eternity. With the debut set to take place at Times Square during Super Bowl Week, it is a fitting tribute to what is truly Chicago’s best-kept secret. As female football grows into the sporting conversation, there is no question that Windy City football fans shall one day reflect on this remarkable team of wondrous woman and acknowledge that they have not seen a team this dominant since the 1985 Chicago Bears captured the hearts and minds of fans worldwide.