The expansion Calgary Fillies and what might have been

As a new chapter in the history of LFL Canada unfolded, the Calgary Fillies were ti join the sorority as the newest franchise for 2013. Playing out of the Stampede Corral, the expansion Fillies should have hosted the Regina Rage on September 14 in their inaugural game. Instead, a September 16 announcement from LFL Canada stated that the season would be postponed to 2014. These quotes were taken before the visceral announcement to postpone the season.

A collage of Fillies players. Obtained from:

A collage of Fillies players. Obtained from:

Prior to the announcement, an interview was held with head coach Jarrod Neufeld. A longtime football coach in the community, he was looking forward to seeing the Fillies in action. During the first series of evaluating talent, the aspiring members of the Fillies came from many unique sporting backgrounds. From baseball and soccer to lacrosse and rugby, even one with a figure skating past, there was no shortage of athletic women.

In shaping the roster, two competitors, Jennifer McLean and Kora-lee Vidal have experience in competitive tackle football. Their teamwork skills and knowledge of the game shall prove invaluable in bringing a strong presence to the locker room.

“Experienced players do a lot for our team and it helps so much.” Neufeld continued, “Having some players who have been through practices in the past, as opposed to a group of girls who have no idea what to do, only adds to the leadership.”

While the final roster is still not in place, some of the players on the team bring tremendous potential to the LFL gridiron. “There are quite a few athletes who can become stars. They will definitely show up and do really well. Tonia Henderson should have a big season, Cheyenne Rusk is another,” remarked Neufeld.

Despite being an expansion team, Neufeld is confident that the Fillies have the ability to contend for a playoff spot. In discussing the elements necessary to qualify for the postseason, he stated, “The team gelling and making sure they pick up their playbooks as soon as they can will be important.”

Although the quarterback situation is not determined at the moment, the level of competition for the position only adds to the excitement of LFL football coming to the city. “Across the board, the reaction to the team is pretty good,” declared Neufeld. With the city of Calgary being selected as the host city for the second annual LFL Canada championship game and awards night, there is certainly a strong vote of confidence.

For Neufeld and his team, the litmus test shall come on opening night. Like any expansion team, winning will make a tremendous impact on the early success of the franchise. In discussing the September 14 match, a feeling of excitement surrounds the entire Fillies organization,

“It is going to be a different experience compared to anything I have done. It will also be a different experience for the girls. There is definitely anticipation and an excitement for it.”

With the announcements that Angela Rypien, Tamar Fennell and Teresa Petruziello were LFL US free agents that joined the club, the potential for the team to win a championship was strong. Regrettably, various factors such as logistics and preparedness shattered the opportunity to compete in 2013. While Calgary fans will have to wait one more season for LFL football, it will likely be well worth it.

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.