Kim Perez an underrated superstar for two-time champion Chicago Bliss

With a presence that has contributed to the Chicago Bliss capturing two consecutive league championships, Kim Perez has established herself as a key member of its roster. In each season that she has played with the Bliss, they managed to successfully navigate their way to the pinnacle of their sport.

On a Bliss team that features elite quarterback (and franchise player) Heather Furr, along with the very powerful running back, Chris’Dell Harris, who bulldozes through opposing defenses almost effortlessly, it would be easy to overlook Perez. Compounding this is the fact that the club also features several younger players, including Conference All-Stars Alli Alberts and Hallie Jiskra, both possessing girl next door looks.

Quite possibly the most underrated superstar not just on the Bliss, but in the entire league of play, Perez quietly goes on, with an ethereal serenity and a calm demeanor that erupts into punishing play on the field, always giving her team a chance to win. Statistically, Perez has emerged as one of the league’s leaders in tackles for the last two seasons. With results that speak for themselves, Perez is truly an essential (and perhaps invaluable) component on a top-ranked Chicago defense.

Also a talented softball player, Perez is one of many two-sport stars that currently grace the gridiron. Having manned centerfield for the University of the Cumberlands Patriots in Williamsburg, Kentucky, she graduated with program records for hits and stolen bases. During the 2006 campaign, she was recognized as an honorable mention for the 2006 and 2007 Mid-South All-Conference Team. Her senior season (2007) may have been her finest. Perez led the Patriots with 49 hits and 20 stolen bases, displaying a great combination of speed and skill at the plate. This was complemented by registering 56 total bases.

While at Cumberlands, she also delved into flag football, a sport that continues to grow in popularity with young women throughout college campuses in North America. Representing the university at numerous tournaments, she would prove to be a key factor in their success. In one tournament, she would score a touchdown against the Pink Ladies from the University of Virginia at Wise in a 12-0 win. The second round game saw Perez receive two touchdown passes, contributing to a solid 36-12 win. By tournament’s end, Perez was named Tournament MVP while leading Cumberlands to a victory.

Such success would form the beginning of a solid football career. From 11-on-11 outdoor football to indoor glories with the Chicago Bliss, it was certainly no coincidence that the Bliss would capture two titles in her first two years there.

Bringing strong versatility to the gridiron, Perez can excel at both the linebacker and defensive back positions. While Perez has mentioned online that she is more comfortable at linebacker, her ability to compete at either position allows the coaching staff the luxury of adding creativity to their defensive attack.

Of note, Alberts and Furr are the only players on the Bliss that compete on both sides of the football. Taking into account Furr’s value as quarterback (at which she is the league’s finest), injury can be avoided by having her play exclusively at the position against certain opponents. Such a move may prove crucial in the club’s ambitions towards a third consecutive championship.

Knowing that Perez can adequately fill in at the defensive back position (where Furr is just as talented) certainly adds to her possible perception by fans that she is the team’s good luck charm. Although she is a naturally born athlete, one could argue that she was destined to wear the Bliss colors.

Working in Champaign, Illinois, a chance encounter resulted in Harris walking into Perez’s place of work. Quickly, a conversation about sport developed with Perez discussing her initial sojourn into football, especially her experiences in a full contact 11-on-11 league. An intrigued Harris would invite Perez to a tryout, setting the stage for a key piece in assembling the Bliss’ championship puzzle.

Articulate and college-educated, the gridiron glories have not only extended the athletic endeavors of Perez, but it has served to introduce her to an entire new fan base. A great competitor and an ambassador for the game, the Bliss have a gem in Perez, whose efforts certainly make the dream of three championships in a row very real.

Strong season for Chicago Bliss culminates in second straight indoor football championship

For the second consecutive season, the Chicago Bliss held off pressure from Western Conference rivals Los Angeles and Seattle to finish in the championship picture. With 2013 Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia having folded in the off-season, a new opponent would rise to challenge the Bliss for indoor football supremacy.

Led by multi-sport star Jodie Nettles and rookie quarterback Dakota Hughes, the Atlanta Steam would grab the Eastern Conference crown in only their second season. In addition, head coach Dane Robinson would earn Coach of the Year honors. Defeating an ambitious Jacksonville squad led by two-way threat Saige Steinmetz, the Steam were hoping to complete their dream season by overcoming the defending league champs.

Once again, Heather Furr established herself as the heartbeat of the club. Known affectionately as Rockstar, her poise relieved the burden of pressure that accompanies high expectations. Complemented by the veteran presence of Chris’Dell Harris on the Bliss’ offensive attack and Kim Perez anchoring the defense, their 5-0-1 mark paced all teams in female indoor football.

Quarterback Heather Furr proudly shows off the Legends Cup in center field of Chicago's famous Wrigley Field (Image obtained from Facebook)

Quarterback Heather Furr proudly shows off the Legends Cup in center field of Chicago’s famous Wrigley Field (Image obtained from Facebook)

Of note, Harris finished as the league’s rushing and receiving champion. Her 621 rushing yards was more than double the amount of yards accumulated by runner-up Saige Steinmetz (who ran for 305 yards). Leading all Bliss players with eight touchdowns (four receiving and four rushing), she was a key reason that the club outscored opponents by an average of 30.3 to 18.3 points. In addition, the club posted impressive marks of 63% on third down conversions, followed by a remarkable 86% conversion on fourth down.

By season’s end, Bliss players finished in the top five of all six major statistical categories (passing, rushing, receiving, tackles, sacks, interceptions). Despite the Bliss adopting more of a rushing game, Heather Furr finished as the third-ranked passer in the league.

Kim Perez, who tied with teammate Yahshi Rice for the league lead in sacks (Chantel Taylor would rank fourth), also finished second in league play with three interceptions. Atop the leader board in tackles was Dominique Collins, recording 29.5 tackles. Not far behind was Rice, ranking third in tackles.

The road to the championship began with a May 9 match against Los Angeles, one of the first dynasties in indoor female football. A 25-21 win on home soil was followed by a rare occurrence. Hosting the Seattle Mist, another title contender, the contest ended in a 34-34 draw.

Travelling to Las Vegas for the third match of the season, the Bliss managed to overcome rookie sensation Sindy Cummings and prevailed with a hard-fought 27-18 victory. This was followed by the renewal of their storied rivalry with the Green Bay Chill on July 23.

Unfortunately, the rivalry lost a distinct feeling with the absence of quarterback Anne Erler. As a side note, Erler and Furr were teammates on the Saskatoon Sirens. Competing against another rookie quarterback, the Bliss made a strong statement, emerging victorious in a convincing 32-7 win.

After a 3-0-1 regular season, the Bliss travelled to Ontario, California for the Western Conference title game against Los Angeles. With LA looking for their fourth title in franchise history, they were hoping that home field advantage would work in their favor. After defeating their rivals, the Seattle Mist, they were not able to overcome a well-rested Bliss team. A 40-12 victory for Chicago was a victory worthy of their status as an elite club.

Returning to Ontario for the championship game against Atlanta on September 6, it would prove to be a hard-fought match. Only holding a two-point advantage at halftime with an 8-6 lead, Chicago would manage to hold on for a nail-biting 24-18 tally after four quarters of play. While the Steam played valiantly, they managed to earn the respect of fans and foes alike, a significant accomplishment.

The second straight title solidifies Furr’s legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in female indoor football. It was no surprise that she was one of four finalists for the inaugural indoor female football Hall of Fame. Along with the impact of the Chicago Force in the Women’s Football Alliance, the Bliss have contributed to a remarkable period of female football in the Windy City, which may be unrivaled for years to come.