Jennifer McLean’s experience adds new dimension to expansion Calgary Fillies

With the Legends Football League expanding to the city of Calgary for the 2013 season, wide receiver Jennifer McLean is bound to emerge as a leader. With the moniker Fillies, the new expansion team is in need of some experienced players that can set the example for the rest of the players.

McLean fits the bill perfectly as she is no stranger to the gridiron. Donning number four with the Calgary Rage, a women’s tackle football team in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, her experience will be crucial once the Fillies compete in their inaugural contest.

Image by Candice Ward Photography

Image by Candice Ward Photography

A September 14 tilt with the Regina Rage, coached by former Jacksonville Jaguars player Brent Hawkins, will determine how ready the Fillies are to compete in the LFL. As McLean competed in the WWCFL at the Wide Receiver position, she knows how to evade tacklers, make plays happen and more importantly, take a hit.

Once the LFL announced an expansion team for Calgary (due to logistical problems with the Toronto Triumph), hardcore women’s football fans could not help but wonder if some members of Calgary’s WWCFL team would cross-over. While McLean (joined by Kora-lea Vidal) took the plunge, Tonia Henderson from the rival Edmonton Storm shall also be joining them this season with the Fillies.

Image obtained from Facebook

Image obtained from Facebook

The added benefit of competing in the LFL is that it improves her conditioning, exposes her to more big-game situations and enables her to sharpen her skills. With the LFL playing indoors on a narrower field, McLean will have to be lightning fast with razor sharp reflexes in order to adapt to a faster offense.

Once she returns to the WWCFL in spring 2014, the experience of LFL will benefit because the wider football field shall improve her vision for the game. Perhaps the biggest adjustment for McLean shall be the uniforms.

Image by Candice Ward Photography

Image by Candice Ward Photography

In the WWCFL, McLean wears the full football uniform (complete with the oversized shoulder pads and helmet with full face-mask). While the LFL uniform is much more revealing, she also has the experience and character which will likely expose her as one of the biggest playmakers for the Fillies.

Connie Fekete: The Football Player with a Heart of Gold

Competing for the Calgary Rage of the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, Connie Fekete is one of many pioneers in the nascent sport of women’s football. A dedicated and assiduous individual who embodies the competitive spirit of the game, Fekete is also an athletic humanitarian. While her gridiron performances contributed to the Rage enjoying their first .500 season in franchise history, she is also a charitable individual who looks to give back to the community.

Connie Fekete

Connie Fekete

When the city of Calgary was ravaged by a series of unforeseen floods, Fekete rose to the occasion. Employing social media, she was quick to report which roads were inaccessible. Once the rains lightened, Fekete and her children went to volunteer their time to assist overworked police and fire crews, while providing relief and comfort to the less fortunate.

Even in the aftermath of the floods, Fekete was still supporting her community. Advising fellow Calgarians of school closures and unsafe areas via social media, her role as a proud citizen was clearly evident. Her off-the-field heroics not only show a sincere concern for her community, but set an example for others as to what is the essence of character and compassion.

A great point of pride included her son making a contribution in an effort for cancer earlier in the summer. Well-known as an avid supporter of Calgary sports (including her attendance at the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto); her charitable endeavors are creating a new legend.

During the first Saturday in July, she took part in a unique fundraiser in which the proceeds raised went towards Special Olympics. Participating in the Bikini Espy fundraising event, the brave women that participated were donning only a bikini and cowboy boots outside. Shivering and tolerating the elements, the event would end by being outfitted with custom Western gear.

In her blog, she mentions how the event resulted in a strengthened confidence in her and the new appreciation for how much fun life can be. One can tell that everything she does comes with great enjoyment and is truly a labour of love.

From an athletic perspective, this past season with the Rage represented several milestones for her. As a defensive back with the squad, she enjoyed the career highlight of her first interception. In addition, she played without a knee brace this season.

While she may be a mom over the age of 40, she has a great joie de vivre that rubs off on everyone she meets. As one of many mothers who compete in the WWCFL, she is helping to shatter the myth about age, parenthood and the ability to excel in competitive sport.

As the sisterhood of women’s football fights to be part of the general sporting conversation, characters like Fekete help to enrich the game. The defining factor of women’s football is that there is a sense of family, and everyone seeks inspiration in each other. While not everyone can be a superstar, there are many ways to be a hero.

The unfolding events of 2013 have represented a great chapter in Fekete’s personal journey. Through the dedication she displays on the football field, her heroics during a horrific flood, complemented by her efforts to improve other’s lives with charitable work, there is vivacity and an excitement for life which emanates. Possessing great character, she is a strong individual and a tremendous role model for women of all ages.

Follow Connie on her blog at: Blogspot
Photo credit by: Candice Ward Photography