Canadian ex-pat Lara Guscott an intriguing player from 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds

Having grown up in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Lara Guscott’s road to the Canadian national women’s football team went through Kansas City, Missouri. Serving as Canada’s field goal kicker in a silver medal effort at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds in Vantaa, Finland, Guscott made her way through the back door.

Donning the Team Canada uniform (Image obtained from Facebook)

Donning the Team Canada uniform (Image obtained from Facebook)

Her initital interest in football piqued as a teenager. With a strong background as a soccer player in high school, she was denied the opportunity to compete on the boys’ football team with the Grande Prairie Composite high school Warriors. Despite the snub, she preserved on the soccer pitch. In autumn 2003, she would earn a soccer scholarship to Graceland University in Iowa.

After graduating from Graceland, she would earn a law degree from Kansas University. Starting her legal career in Kansas City, Missouri, it would serve as the backdrop to the starting point in her football career. After the Tribe captured the 2009 Independent Women’s Football League title, she would try out for the team in 2010 and earn a roster spot.

During the 2012 season, Guscott helped the Tribe to an 8-2 mark, which also helped the club clinch a divisional title. Contributing to an offense that scored a staggering 497 points (while the defense allowed only 161), she would finish second overall in the WFA with 829 receiving yards.

This was complemented by her 42 receptions (third in the WFA) and 17 touchdown receptions. Tribe teammate Liz Sowers, one of her opponents on the US team in 2013, led the Kansas City offense with 18 touchdowns. Perhaps more impressive was that Guscott accumulated 1005 all-purpose yards. She would register 123 yards on six kickoff returns, while averaging 18 yards on three punt returns.

Her efforts would also lead her to the 2012 WFA All-Star Game, held at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on August 4, 2012. Fellow Tribe teammates Keke Blackmon, Jenny Schmidt, Liz Sowers and Mindy White also played with Guscott.It was a historic event in women’s football as it marked the first time that an NFL stadium hosted the WFA National Title Game and All-Star Game, respectively. Such a strong resume would benefit Guscott as she missed the first stage of tryouts for Canada’s national team.

Image from Jennifer House, Kansas City Tribe

Image from Jennifer House, Kansas City Tribe

Football Canada hosted the first Canadian national women’s football championship, named the 2012 Challenge Cup. The all-female football tournament was held in Laval, Quebec. With 175 players from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and a regional club from the Maritimes known as Team Atlantic, it was meant to be the first means of evaluating prospective talent for the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds.

Having missed the event in Montreal, it would have appeared that Guscott was a long shot to qualify for the Canadian roster. One distinct factor was that she had paid her dues in the Women’s Football Alliance as a Wide Receiver with the Kansas City Tribe of the Women’s Football Alliance. Guscott would be recognized as the 2012 WFA Offensive Player of the Year in the American Conference.

With an interest in competing for Canada, Guscott sent video footage to some Football Canada coaches. The result was that she received an invitation to a final tryout camp for Western Canadian female talent in Moose Jaw, Saskatcewhan. From the outset, there was a lot to prove.

Out of ten receivers at the camp, Guscott was at a disadvantage. Having never played in Canada, coaches were not familiar with her, nor were the quarterback hopefuls throwing to her. Standing only at five-foot-two and 125 pounds, the spitfire had to demonstrate that she was worthy of her WFA status, while competing against taller candidates.

While she was not as physically strong as the other receivers, her blazing speed and experience yielded positive results. Said camp would finish with Guscott becoming the only WFA player named to the roster.

As the IFAF Women’s Worlds were contested using American rules football, it made Guscott a much more reliable choice. Ironically, some of her Kansas City teammates would now become her rivals. The Sowers sisters were both named to the US roster. Guscott would contribute to the Canadian contingent as a field goal kicker, where she would register 12 points (tied for third on the team) during the IFAF Worlds, going a perfect 10 for 10 in point after attempts. She would also manage one reception for eight yards.

In the aftermath of the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, Guscott wants to continue competing on the gridiron. Only 28 years old, the potential for Guscott to play for the rest of the decade is highly possible. As some women in the IWFL and WFA are past the age of 40, fans in Kansas City may have many more seasons of watching Guscott run for daylight.