DC Divas enjoy perfect 2015 regular season with convincing win against Boston

Although the Boston Renegades are different from the now-defunct Boston Militia team that captured the 2014 WFA national championship, a strong statement about who would compete for the 2015 edition of the championship was made. Enduring a 56-28 loss to the DC Divas, the game may have been a symbolic passing of the torch.

In a meaningful win for the undefeated Divas (8-0), who faced competition over the last few seasons from the Militia, this season has resulted in dominance against the Renegades. In its prior incarnation, the Militia never faced two losses in the same season to an opponent. This season as the Renegades, they suffered two losses at the hands of the top-ranked Divas.

On the first possession, the Divas set the tone with a 71-yard touchdown drive, culminating in Kenyetta Grigsby’s five-yard run. Subsequently, Cherre Marshall intercepted long-time Boston quarterback Allison Cahill. Capitalizing on the turnover, Divas signal caller Allyson Hamlin and wide receiver Ashley Whisonant connected on a 79-yard touchdown pass, extending the lead.

With Boston suffering their second consecutive turnover, Helen Deer recovered the fumble allowing the Divas the chance to add to an already commanding lead. Once again, Hamlin was the factor as she scored on a quarterback sneak. Before the first quarter would expire, Militia alum Stacey Tiamfook would score on a third and goal, attempting to breathe life back into the Renegades, trailing 20-7.

Following Tiamfook’s touchdown, Hamlin would make history on a 58-yard drive that resulted in the 200th touchdown pass of her Divas career, more than any other football quarterback in the history of Washington sports. The 36-yard touchdown pass was fittingly caught by long-time teammate Whisonant, who helped increase the lead to a 27-7 mark.

Turning Team USA alum Adrienne Smith to get back in the game, Boston quarterback Allison Cahill found a way to build momentum. Catching a pair of long passes as part of an impressive 57 yard drive, her 37-yard scoring reception came on a crucial third and 11.

Coming back with their fifth touchdown in five possessions, Whisonant would make her mark in the historic game, catching her third touchdown pass of the game. In the first half alone, she had accumulated a remarkable 183 receiving yards on just five receptions.

Although the Renegades combination of Tiamfook (who ran for 54 yards in the drive) and Cahill would culminate in another touchdown, the defense could not contain a high octane Divas offense. Requiring just 61 seconds to cover an astonishing 61 yards, Grigsby bookended the first half by scoring the final touchdown of said half.

Making some halftime adjustments, the third quarter saw the Renegades defense allow only three points, providing the offense the opportunity to get back into the game. Tiamfook showed why she is one of the WFA’s most dominant running backs with a three-yard touchdown run which reduced the Divas lead to only 15 points, 43-28.

Scoring on their seventh straight possession, the Divas managed to regroup on offense as Kentrina Wilson was the recipient of a 13-yard pass from Hamlin. With 8:17 left, Hamlin orchestrated a superlative drive that consumed seven minutes and 26 seconds, frustrating the Renegades overwhelmed defense. Completing her fifth touchdown pass (finding Lillian Cherry with 51 seconds remaining), she had accumulating a sparkling 331 passing yards.

Clinching home field advantage in the National Conference playoffs, the Divas enjoyed their sixth undefeated regular season in franchise history. Considering that it is also their 15th Anniversary season, it is testament tot heir impact as one of the premier teams in female football.

References: Neal Rozendaal

DC Divas celebrate 15 years of elite female football in the nation’s capital

As one of the most important and accomplished teams in the modern history of female football, 2015 represents the landmark 15th anniversary of the DC Divas. Only the Minnesota Vixen and the New York Sharks have been in existence longer among female football teams in the United States. In their first 14 seasons, the Divas have assembled a remarkable win-loss record of 98-35.

Founded in 2000, they were one of ten charter franchises that composed the National Women’s Football Association. Enjoying their first undefeated season in 2004, they would follow it up with a charity game against a men’s team, setting a record (since broken) for the highest attendance at a female football game. The jubilation of their first national championship would occur in 2006 with a 28-7 triumph against the Oklahoma City Lightning, resulting in Rachelle Pecovsky earning MVP honors and a write-up in Sports Illustrated. In addition, Pecovsky would add to her Divas legacy by shattering the team record for most touchdowns in one game, by running for daylight five times on just nine carriers, part of a 76-0 whitewash of the Harrisburg Angels.

Over the seasons, another competitor that has played a role of prominence in the history of the franchise is Donna Wilkinson. A charter member, her gridiron legacy has only solidified her standing as one of the finest female athletes to have competed in the nation’s capital. Having spoken at Georgetown University about the role of women in sport, Wilkinson has also met the real-life female softball players that inspired the 1992 film. “A League of Their Own.” Also a television personality, she was a sports analyst for the WUSA-TV9 live sports show – GAME ON!

In late December 2014, an announcement concerning another charter member of the Divas helped build strong momentum heading into the anniversary season. The return of Alison Fischer as head coach represented another proud link to its earliest years. Of note, she has been involved with the Divas for 14 seasons (four as a coach, 10 as a player).

Fischer competed at the defensive back position for 10 seasons, while earning the honor of team captain for three of those seasons. After one season in retirement, she returned to the club as head coach, making a strong statement about the growing role of women in coaching. During her first three seasons, she led the club to a division crown in each, complemented by finishing in the top five national rankings each season.

The impact of the Anniversary season continued as Missy Bedwell, Cailie Brownson and Donna Wilkinson (all alums with Team USA) were invited to serve as instructors/mentors at the second annual Women’s World Football Games in Tampa, Florida. This honor was testament to their impact as legendary figures and ambassadors for the growing female game.

Prior to the season’s first kick-off, another monumental event occurred, destined to add to the mythology of the Divas. An announcement that the club would form a DC Divas Hall of Fame was an ideal opportunity to recognize the remarkable individuals who contributed to a great chapter in Washington sporting history.

With plans to induct four members on an annual basis, selection would be made through a two-tiered voting process involving Divas fans and alumnae. One member would be selected in an online fan vote, while the other three would gain entry on a vote from the alumni, including players, coaches and staff.

Of note, the 2015 Hall of Fame class was introduced at the Divas’ 2015 Homecoming contest on June 6, which was also Donna Wilkinson’s birthday. Hosting the fifth-ranked Cleveland Fusion, the Divas emerged victorious, improving their record to 7-0 for the first time since 2009. The halftime ceremony honored the D.C. Divas Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Tessa Nelson, Gayle Dilla, Vickie Lucas, and Coach Ezra Cooper.

Recently, team captains (and two-sport stars) Allyson Hamlin and Trigger McNair were the subject of an interview in Washington Life, another point of pride during the anniversary season. Such recognition only adds to the relevance of the Divas in the nation’s capital as they look to end said season with the second national championship in franchise history.

Although winning a national championship is akin to the pressure that comes with attempting to capture a title in men’s college football, the reality is that the Divas legacy in the city of Washington and in the rapidly growing sport of female football carries a significance that is certain to last over time. While a title is what everyone works towards, with due deference, it is a snapshot in time, a chapter in a bigger story. That bigger story consists of the impact of this amazing franchise, which has not only helped to signify the importance of female sport in America, but it has provided remarkable role models for young girls, while capturing the hearts and minds of both male and female sports fans.

Boston Militia’s upset of Chicago Force the best game of 2014 WFA regular season

On the road towards gaining the 2014 WFA national championship, a key turning point for the Boston Militia occurred during their regular season victory against the Chicago Force. After suffering a loss to the Force in the 2013 American Conference championship game, a message was sent that any future hopes for a title would have to begin with a victory against Chicago.

Competing at the neutral site of Munhall, Pennsylvania, the 2014 match up added a new dimension to their rivalry. Despite Sami Grisafe not being able to play for the Force, along with the Militia missing a few players, it was a hotly contested game.

Despite the Force winning the coin toss, they elected to receive only at the beginning of the second half. The Militia orchestrated a seven-play drive that resulted in turning the ball over on downs. It would prove to be a minor setback as the Force fumbled on the second play of their first possession.

Tomi Gibson would provide the early heroics, recovering the fumble for the Militia. A 57-yard effort would follow as veteran player Stacey Tiamfook ran four yards into the end zone for the score. The point after was successfully converted by Emily Holland.

Facing a rare 7-0 deficit, the Force attempted to tie the score but was forced to punt. Proving that the punt is an effective strategy, the Force defense overpowered Militia quarterback Allison Cahill and a two-point safety was the result.

The Force would find themselves falling behind further as the Militia needed only nine plays to find their way into the red zone. Covering 66 yards, Tiamfook ran the sweep into the end zone and earned her second touchdown of the game. With Holland converting the point after attempt, the lead expanded to 12 points.

Grisafe’s absence was highly evident as the Force struggled to assemble an offensive attack. Mocha Torres would intercept a pass and bring it back 12 yards, putting the Militia on the Force’s own 36-yard line. Once again, the Militia only needed nine plays to return to the end zone. Dorothy Donaldson would run it in for a one-yard score, while Holland kicked her third point of the day.

On the following kickoff, the Force managed to post some points on the scoreboard with a 75 yard kickoff return. Reducing the Militia’s lead to a 21-10 score, it would not last very long. Returning to Donaldson as its running option, the Militia punished the Force defense with a 45-yard offensive drive. Capping it off with the aforementioned Donaldson earning a 15-yard score, the first half ended with a 28-10 lead.

The second half began on a scoring note as the Force returned the kickoff over 70 yards. Complemented by a two-point conversion, the score was now 28-18 in favor of the Militia. Followed by Alison Cahill having to punt the ball, the Force was hoping the momentum would turn in their direction.

Defensively, the Militia would prove to be the factor in the game. Holding off the Force’s attack on offense, the third quarter ended with the Force not being able to add any more points. This was compounded by Jennifer Olivieri intercepting a Force pass in the fourth quarter.

Adrienne Smith, a member of Team USA’s gold medal effort at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, made an impact on the next offensive series. A 45-yard pass play with Cahill resulted in the Militia having the ball on the 12-yard line, ready to add to their lead. Another sweep to Tiamfook would but the game out of reach for the Force as the Militia extended their lead by 17 points.

Although Briannah Gallo earned another interception for the Militia, the Force defense worked tirelessly to prevent another touchdown as Cahill punted again. Unfortunately, the Force’s offense could not assemble an effective attack. A fumble was recovered by Kristen Sarson, giving the ball back to the Militia.

Playing with determination, the Force defense forced the Militia to turn the ball over on downs. Desperate to score, the Force attempted to convert a fourth down opportunity but were stymied by the Militia’s defense. Running out the clock, a jubilant Militia squad extended their undefeated streak, providing the Force with their first loss of the season.

Offensively, Asia Landrum (who did not score a touchdown) ground out the Force defense, pounding 110 rushing yards on only 18 carries. Cahill would contribute 50 passing yards while her 152 passing yards added to a potent offense. Smith managed 102 receiving on only five receptions.

Their leadership would prove to be essential as the Militia posted an undefeated regular season. Ironically, the American Conference championship game was a repeat of 2013. Playing the Chicago Force, Boston’s confidence resulted in a convincing 63-14 triumph, paving the way towards the WFA National Championship Game.

10 Female Athletes that made an inspiring impact in 2013

In alphabetical order, please find ten female athletes that helped to make a tremendous impact in 2013, while advancing the already amazing world of female sport.

Angella Goran, Cycling

Cycling across Canada in hopes of raising funds for wildlife research, she channeled the spirit of other Canadians who have ventured on the road in similar efforts; Terry Fox, Rick Hansen and Ashley Gilbank. Looking to preserve Canada’s natural legacy while looking to educate and provide various education activities on her stops, Goran is a role model to both men and women who have undertaken environmental causes.

Emma Green-Tregaro, Track and Field

While the 2013 IAAF World Track and Field Championships were a lightning rod for controversy due to issues of gay rights, Emma Green-Tregaro made a remarkable statement. Painting her fingernails in the colors of the rainbow as a gesture of support, it made worldwide news. While she was inititally warned it could be in violation of the code of conduct of the world championships, she stood her ground, inspiring men and women of any sexual preference to stand up for their beliefs.

Brittany Griner, Basketball

From the NCAA to NBA Draft speculation to the WNBA, Brittany Griner made national news on numerous stages. While her NCAA career at Baylor did not end on with a Final Four, she graduated as the all-time leading blocker among both male and female basketball players.

Speculation about the NBA Draft sparked rumors that she would become the first female selected. Although it never materialized, she would go first overall to the Phoenix Mercury in the 2013 WNBA Draft. Her debut against the Chicago Sky (which featured second pick overall Elena Delle Donne) featured two slam dunks, the first player to do so in their WNBA debut.

Sami Grisafe, Football

One of the most inspiring sporting stories of 2013 (among men and women), football quarterback Sami Grisafe finished her storied football career in grand style. Having led the United States to a gold medal at the inaugural 2010 IFAF Women’s World Football Championships, she followed it up as the field general for the US in 2013.

Her world gold would be followed up by a remarkable performance with the Chicago Force in the 2013 WFA postseason. Leading her club to their first-ever WFA National Championship, it was a fitting finish to Grisafe’s stellar career. Tackling the next role in her life, a promising musical career, her performance of the Star-Spangled Banner at the IFAF Worlds and at Wrigley Field are pulse-pounding.

Brooke Henderson, Golf

Only 16 years old, Brooke Henderson may become the Tiger Woods of women’s golf. A teen phenom who was recognized as Canada’s amateur golfer of the year for 2013, she was also featured in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd segment. Ranked number nine in the world among amateur female golfers, she would place third at the professional Canadian Women’s Open while placing 35 at the LPGA’s Manulife Classic.

Nikki Johnson, Football

One of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of women’s indoor football, Nikki Johnson used her star power to try and improve working conditions in her league. A former intern with NFL Films and a high school sporting legend in Nevada, her solid work ethic and leadership skills set a positive example for teammate and rival alike.

While her requests for health insurance and a more equitable setting in the league resulted in her untimely dismissal, her efforts are similar to Curt Flood in baseball and Ted Lindsay in hockey. Although she will likely return to the WFA (where she first honed her skills), Johnson is a strong, courageous woman whose principles make her a symbol of admiration and determination.

Hilary Knight, Ice Hockey

While Amanda Kessel had an outstanding 2013, in which she won the Patty Kazmaier Award and led the Minnesota Golden Gophers to an undefeated season, Hilary Knight was playing in the ultra-competitive CWHL against some of Canada’s greatest women’s ice hockey players.

With such sterling competition, Knight not only ranked third in league scoring (first among US-born women), but she would become the first American-born player to capture the CWHL’s MVP Award. She would follow it up by leading all players in postseason scoring as the Blades upset the Montreal Stars to capture the Clarkson Cup. A few weeks later, Knight (and Kessel) would beat Canada on their own home ice to capture gold at the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships. Featured on a trading card in the Topps Sochi Winter Games trading card set, her star is on the rise.

Yekaterina Pashkevich, Ice Hockey

A former women’s tackle football competitor in the IWFL, Yekaterina Pashkevich emerged as the feel-good story of the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships. An original member of the Russian national team from 1993, she lived in Boston for several years after the 2006 Torino Winter Games. Making a comeback in hockey, Pashkevitch would capture the hearts and minds of fans 20 years later. As the oldest competitor at the 2013 IIHF Worlds, her acumen and leadership contributed to an emotional bronze medal for the Russian squad.

Winter Venecki, Running

In honor of her fallen father, Winter Venecki and her mother participated in marathons on every continent in the world. Looking to raise funds for cancer research, Venecki’s journey was one of inspiration and hope. Having established her own cause to raise funds, the teenaged Venecki is a great example of the great contributions youth can make to our society.

Serena Williams, Tennis

In a season that saw Williams amass an outstanding win-loss record of 78-4, she solidified her legacy as the greatest female tennis player ever. Her earnings of over $12,000,000 are the highest-ever in women’s tennis history and the fifth highest among both male and female players.

Honorable Mention: Christmas Abbott, NASCAR

As the first female full-time member of a NASCAR racing crew, Christmas Abbott is shattering barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields. Serving with the Michael Waltrip Racing Team, she is a proud member of Clint Bowyer’s pit crew. Able to change two tires weighting 60 pounds each, she paid her dues changing tires for female racer Jennifer Jo Cobb in years past. When not part of the pit crew, Abbott is also a competitor with Team CrossFitInvoke in the CrossFit Mid-Atlantic region.

Honorable Mention: Julie Paetsch, Football and Ice Hockey

One of the most influential women in Canadian sport for 2013, Julie Paetsch helped make history on two different occasions. Competing on defense with the Saskatoon Valkyries of the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, she returned from an injury in-time for the WWCFL title game. Helping the Valkyries to a victory over the Lethbridge Steel, the Valkyries became the first team to win three consecutive WWCFL titles. Of note, she would earn Defensive Player of the Game honors.

A few weeks later, she would contribute to Canada’s silver medal effort at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds. Recognized as Canada’s Player of the Game in the gold medal match against the United States, it would prove to be the beginning of a memorable summer. In late August, she would be selected by the Calgary Inferno in the 2013 Canadian Women’s Hockey League Draft, becoming the first women’s tackle football player taken in CWHL Draft history. In addition, she would score a goal in her debut for the Inferno.

Honorable Mention: Whitney Zelee, Football

Having helped the Boston Militia to a national championship in 2011, Whitney Zelee has emerged as a key member for the WFA franchise. While she has been working tirelessly to help the squad claim a second, her mark on WFA and women’s football history reached unforeseen heights in 2013. As the first player to log 2,000 yards in one season of women’s football, Zelee became a legend in the sport. With several performances of 300+ yards in several matches, her efforts shed a new light on the excitement of women’s football and the growing relevance of the sport.

2013 a landmark year for female football hero Dr. Jen Welter

As women’s football continues to work its way into the sporting conversation, there are a number of remarkable women helping to shatter barriers and challenge convention. At 5’3”, no one understands that role better than Dr. Jen Welter. Despite being undersized, she would craft a superb legacy in the sport as she was part of the US contingent that captured consecutive gold medals at the IFAF Women’s World Football Championships.

Having honed her athletic skills as a tennis player in her home state of Florida, she would eventually shine as a rugby star with the Boston College Eagles. It would serve as a springboard for a storied career on the gridiron that has consisted of four championships and eight All-Pro selections.

The opportunity to compete with the US at the 2013 IFAF Women’s World Championships has brought Welter a lifetime of new memories to treasure in a year to remember. She would finish as the third leading tackler for the US, her finest performance coming in the opening game versus Sweden. Part of the starting lineup for the game, she would also register two tackles for a loss. Only one of five women for the US contingent to record a sack, it would come against Sweden.

Image by Rashard D. Photography

Image by Rashard D. Photography

During the 2013 Dallas Diamonds season, Welter not only celebrated her tenth season with the club but continued to establish herself as a mainstay on the defense. Competing at the linebacker position (she has also played safety in the past), her 26 tackles tied for third on team with Alex Harvey.

Among those tackles, seven would be for a loss, tying her for fourth with Hanna Saari. Of note, Welter would also register one sack and one touchdown on the season. With one of the finest rosters in the Women’s Football Alliance, it came as no surprise that the Diamonds would qualify for the 2013 WFA National Title Game in San Diego against the Chicago Force. While the outcome did not present Welter with her fifth championship, the event helped to celebrate the women’s game. Considering so many members of the US team were with the Force, the entire contest had a feeling of friendship and admiration.

Her popularity has even reached into other exciting aspects of popular culture. Having helped film the teaser for the new reality show SWAT School, she would even assist with the Emergency Location Scout two days prior to the shoot. That is part of what makes Welter such a remarkable person; always willing to go the extra mile for the greater good.

While Dr. Welter’s future still consists of playing football, there is no question that she is more than able to tackle the world of men’s football. Whether it is at the collegiate or professional level, Welter is a tremendous hero who challenged the odds and overcame obstacles to be one of the finest at her position. The thought of Welter employed as a team counselor or even bringing her acumen to a front office position is one that would complement her intelligence, enthusiasm and love of the game.

Nikki Johnson shines as one of the sporting superstars of Las Vegas

Nikki Johnson first came to the attention of sports fans in 2008 when she appeared at the Women’s Football Camp and Conference in Las Vegas. Still a student at Silverado High School, she was already carving her legacy in football.

Playing in the inaugural season of the Las Vegas Sin, Johnson was nominated as the Rookie of the Year, MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. A second-team All-America selection with the Women’s Football Alliance, she earned the nod as a wide receiver, testament to her talent.

Having played against the boys as a child, Johnson was moved when she saw Sam Gordon, a 9 year-old girl from Utah rush for over 1,900 yards in the Ute Conference in 2012. Johnson even wrote her a letter of inspiration, indicating how she impressed she was with her play.

Represented by the SMWW Agency, Johnson is a sports model, motivational speaker and broadcaster.
An ambassador for the LFL, she is truly one of its gems. Having represented the league in All-Star games in Mexico and Australia, with a sparkling time of 4.8 in the 40-yard dash.

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Championing the worthy cause of having girl’s flag football earning the status of a sanctioned sport in the state, she would speak about its benefits at the conference mentioning that recreational flag football leagues for girls had nearly 2000 participants in Southern Nevada. Emphasizing the importance of giving girls a place to learn the game at an earlier age level, Johnson even set up a program to help establish the growth of the sport in her school district.

Although the Clark County School District in Nevada mentioned girl’s flag football would be classified as a club sport for 36 high schools in 2009, the desired result came in 2012. Following in the footsteps of Florida, Alaska and several regions of Canada and Mexico, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association would sanction the sport.

During that time frame, Johnson was also one of 10 young women that were chosen to help promote girls flag football for the National Football League. It would mark the beginning of a fruitful relationship with the league. From encouraging women to contact her so that she could put them in touch with proper NFL channels to get women’s football started in their area, she would also serve an internship with NFL Films in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. In addition, she would contribute to NFL Matchup, a weekly show featuring Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge, as a production assistant gathering stats and researching facts.

In women’s tackle football, Johnson participated in the Women’s Football Alliance with the Las Vegas Showgirlz. Competing at the Wide Receiver position, Johnson would emerge as the squad’s receiving leader in 2010. Several of her Sin teammates also made their mark with the Showgirlz; Yevette Tanner, Jennifer Cowan and Mia Chambers (who was tackled in LFL play by a drunken fan). Of note, Johnson would also play with another WFA squad, the Silver State Legacy.

Perhaps more impressive was the fact that an NFL Films crew followeed Nikki and her Showgirlz teammates, including a workout session at Van Hook Sports Performance, highlighting the growth of the women’s game. As a side note, former pop culture icon Robin Leach contributes to the Las Vegas Sun and is one of Johnson’s biggest fans, having frequently covered her storied career.

Johnson (left) and Joey Davenport during the introductory news conference for the Las Vegas Sin expansion squad. (Photo credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

Johnson (left) and Joey Davenport during the introductory news conference for the Las Vegas Sin expansion squad. (Photo credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

Her importance and value to her team is the equivalent of Peyton Manning in men’s football. Heading into the 2013 campaign, Las Vegas head coach Jeremiah Captain praised her talents to the Las Vegas Sun, calling her an accurate passer who could make any throw on the field. While Las Vegas has attractions such as Celine Dion and Britney Spears, Johnson and her superlative displays of football talent are every bit worthy of being a headliner as well.

A see-saw battle against the Green Bay Chill at Orleans Arena would help to solidify Johnson’s status as one of the league’s premier pivots. With both clubs fighting for a postseason berth, fans expected a shoot-out between Johnson and elite quarterback Anne “Showtime” Erler.

For fans of LFL Canada, this was just the continuation of a very intense rivalry between the two. During the inaugural season of the Canadian version of the sport, Johnson was named starting quarterback and eventually became offensive co-ordinator for the Regina Rage. Erler would earn the starting job with the Saskatoon Sirens, setting the stage for the football mad province of Saskatchewan to witness women’s football at its finest. Their rivalry would reach its summit during the last game of the Canadian season as the winner would advance to the LFL Canada championship.

With Cassandra Strickland at a 2013 Super Bowl weekend party at Tabu night club. (Photo by Cashman Photos: Obtained from http://www.vegasnews.com/89248/ladies-of-legends-football-league-party-at-tabu.html)

With Cassandra Strickland at a 2013 Super Bowl weekend party at Tabu night club. (Photo by Cashman Photos: Obtained from http://www.vegasnews.com/89248/ladies-of-legends-football-league-party-at-tabu.html)

The match between Green Bay and Las Vegas would go down as one of the most exciting and historic in league history. With Erler and wide receiver Anna Heasman leading the league in passing and receiving, Johnson made perfect use of her weapons on offense, including Carmen Bourseau, Kelly Schroeder, Stephany Pearls and Danika Brace.

In a game where the lead changed eight times, Heasman would finish the game with an LFL record five receiving touchdowns. Despite the record, Johnson would steal the show by registering four touchdown passes and a 35-yard touchdown run. Her run provided the Sun with a 32-26 lead. After Erler tied the score, Johnson did not disappoint the hometown crowd. A 5-play, 35-yard drive saw Johnson pick apart the Chill defense with a 4-yard pass to Maddie McCoy proving to be the game-winning TD pass.

During the 2013 LFL season, Johnson fifth among all competitors in rushing with 213 yards, averaging 7.1 yards per carry while earning All-Fantasy honors. Her 213 yard output accounted for 47 percent of the Sin’s rushing attack. In terms of passing, Johnson finished among the top five in the league with 309 passing yards and eight touchdown passes. She was also one of the nominees for the LFL’s Offensive Player of the Year Award.

Such a strong presence at the quarterback position was essential in the Sin earning the second highest rushing in the league with an average of 185.3 yards per game. Johnson was also a key factor in Kelley Schroeder blossoming into a deep threat as she finished her campaign ranking as the fifth-best receiver in the league.

Returning to the tangent of LFL Canada, if fans conduct an internet search on Nikki Johnson, they will likely find her hit on Toronto Triumph defender Devine Burton constituting most of the top search results. Named as one of the Top 10 plays of the year on ESPN Sports Center, the play consisted of Johnson on her way towards scoring a rushing touchdown, she drops her shoulder, sending a powerful message to anyone that tries to stand in her way.

While the hit against Burton is a viral video, the reality is that the game possessed some of that typical Johnson magic. Defeating the Triumph by a 40-32 score, Johnson was named Player of the Game. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that after 48 minutes of smash mouth football, she was part of a post-game autograph session, with an ice pack on her right wrist. A true display of character and dedication to her fans.

Showing great loyalty to her fans. Signing an autograph after a Regina Rage win while sporting an ice pack on her right wrist. (Image obtained from: http://www.prairiedogmag.com/what-it-was-was-girl-on-girl-football-rosies-live-blog-of-the-regina-rage%E2%80%99s-inaugural-game/)

Showing great loyalty to her fans. Signing an autograph after a Regina Rage win while sporting an ice pack on her right wrist. (Image obtained from: http://www.prairiedogmag.com/what-it-was-was-girl-on-girl-football-rosies-live-blog-of-the-regina-rage%E2%80%99s-inaugural-game/)

Her presence certainly added a major league feel to LFL Canada. She would finish second in the league in four categories, including passing yardage, touchdown passes, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, respectively.

While it is easy to look on the surface and see the beauty that Johnson and her colleagues from the LFL possess, the most revealing element is their dedication and athleticism. From her role as a women’s sports activist and a Title IX champion, Johnson is one of the modern day builders for women’s football in Nevada. With the goal of working in operations for an NFL team or with an apparel company, Johnson would be a tremendous asset. Although words such as beautiful, elegant and sophisticated may describe Johnson, durable, resilient and talented are equally fitting. A remarkable person during an exceptional period of growth for women in sports, a day may come when fans will boast about having had the chance to see her play, the way those today speak about Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana.

Sami Grisafe ends on a high note as WFA champion Force honored at Wrigley Field

One of the greatest female quarterbacks in the world, Sami Grisafe made the decision to call it a career. Before she leaves the gridiron for good, Grisafe had one more memorable moment in the world of athletics. Along with her Chicago Force teammates, the club was recognized at famous Wrigley Field, home of baseball’s Chicago Cubs.

Prior to the Cubs match versus the Miami Marlins on September 3, Grisafe had the opportunity to step onto the coveted field and sing the Star Spangled Banner. Iroincally, Wrigley is the first stadium where Grisafe saw a professional sporting event.

Grisafe sings the Star Spangled Banner in front of the Cubs faithful (Still obtained from: YouTube)

Grisafe sings the Star Spangled Banner in front of the Cubs faithful (Still obtained from: YouTube)

As the lead singer for The Sami Grisafe Band, she also had the opportunity to sing the anthem before the gold medal game of the 2013 IFAF World Women’s Football Championship. The Huffington Post called that rendition one of the most inspiring versions they ever heard.

Afterwards, Grisafe was followed by Tricia Charbonneau. The club’s field goal kicker was given the honor of throwing the the game’s ceremonial first pitch. Unfortunately for the Cubs, the Force’s winning ways did not rub off on them, as they were bested by a 6-2 tally versus the Marlins.

Force recognized for their championship on the iconic Wrigley Field scoreboard (Photo credit: Ross Forman)

Force recognized for their championship on the iconic Wrigley Field scoreboard (Photo credit: Ross Forman)

For Grisafe and her Force teammates, this was a terrific opportunity to gain some well-deserved recognition. Ashley Berggren, another Force member is the only female athlete to have her jersey raised at the University of Illinois (where she was Big Ten Basketball Player of the Year in 1997). At the bottom of the Cubs scoreboard in center field, a display congratulating the Chicago Force represented a watershed moment for the club.

Receiving the big league treatment, the Force have a new fan in Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts, who helped arrange for the pre-game event. Not only did she wear her own personalized Force jersey to the game, but she has even participated in some pre game coin tosses for the club in WFA play.

Force kicker and co-owner Tricia Charbonneau featured in the Chicago Sun-Times (Image by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

Force kicker and co-owner Tricia Charbonneau featured in the Chicago Sun-Times (Image by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

Of note, this was not the first time this year that a baseball club recognized a great accomplishment in women’s sport. Earlier in the summer, the Boston Red Sox invited the Boston Blades, a women’s hockey team to Fenway Park. Featuring several players that competed at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, the Blades were recognized for their Clarkson Cup champion championship.

For the Force, the 2013 WFA championship game was a defining moment in franchise history. Having lost the 2012 WFA championship, the club wanted to prove it was worthy of winning. With the Dallas Diamonds as the last obstacle, the electricity at Balboa Stadium in San Diego was intensifying.

Ashley Berggren and Nani Love (Image obtained from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chicagoforce)

Ashley Berggren and Nani Love (Image obtained from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chicagoforce)

Having played high school football in California, Grisafe’s final game would bring her back to her home state. After a sparkling season that saw her log 4301 passing yards and 57 touchdowns, Grisafe was definitely the heartbeat of the Force offense. With tremendous drama and anticipation, emotions ran high as both clubs were looking for their first-ever championship.

After Grisafe scored the first touchdown of the game, it would set the tone for the rest of the game. Like John Elway, her final game ended on a championship note while receiving MVP honors. In a convincing 81-34 final, Grisafe shredded the Diamonds defense with an astounding 526 yards and eight touchdowns. The win not only gave Grisafe and the Force their first coveted championship, but it capped off an undefeated season that saw the Force outscore opponents by an astounding 771-128 margin.

Yvette Holt, Sami Grisafe, Tricia Charbonneau, fan holding the WFA National Championship Trophy, Cubs co-owner Linda Ricketts and Linda Bache (far right) with the WFA National Title(Photo by Ross Forman)

Yvette Holt, Sami Grisafe, Tricia Charbonneau, fan holding the WFA National Championship Trophy, Cubs co-owner Linda Ricketts and Linda Bache (far right) with the WFA National Title (Photo by Ross Forman)

After leading the US to its second straight gold medal at the IFAF Women’s Worlds, earning an elusive WFA title, while her band was considered for a Grammy nomination, 2013 shall be a year to remember for the spectacular Sami Grisafe. In addition to her musical ambitions, her career was defined by shattering barriers and ground breaking moments in football (like playing in the first WFA championship in an NFL stadium).

While the WFA has lost a tremendous role model and all-around superstar in Grisafe, her legend will be a building block in establishing a solid foundation for women’s football in America. One of the true originals in women’s sports, Grisafe was more than just an athlete.

Comfortable in her own skin and not afraid to be who she is, Grisafe displayed great courage in publicly disclosing her sexual orientation. In so doing, she proved that the most important thing about women in sport is recognizing them for their athletic ability and character. A winner off the field, she has also established herself as a winner in life, helping to empower and encourage women to follow their dreams.

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.

Remarkable women’s football talent recognized at 2013 WFA Awards

One of the most historic and exciting seasons in Women’s Football Alliance history ended with the announcement of its League Award winners. With so many remarkable milestones accomplished throughout the season, the hardware heroes were all women that helped transform the game and elevate it to a new level of competition

Postseason honors featured the Most Valuable Player award from the WFA Championship Game. Three players were recognized; quarterback Sami Grisafe and wide receiver Jessica Javelet from the Chicago Force, along with Brittany Satterwhite from the Dallas Diamonds.

Having ended her spectacular career with a championship, Sami Grisafe was the emotional favorite heading into the WFA championship game at San Diego’s Balboa Stadium. She would score the first touchdown of the game and set the tone throughout. Having thrown for over 1,000 yards in the 2013 postseason, her precise passing made the difference as the Force captured their first-ever WFA crown with a convincing 81-34 victory.

Coming off a 2012 title with the San Diego Surge, Javelet would prove to be the best free agent pickup of the offseason. A former field hockey legend (who currently coaches with St. Joseph’s University), she paid remarkable dividends for the Force. In the WFA title game, she would log an incredible 225 receiving yards, complemented by 11 receptions and four touchdowns.

A jubilant Javelet with her Championship MVP award (Image obtained from : http://www.sjuhawks.com/sports/w-fieldh/spec-rel/080713aaa.html)

A jubilant Javelet with her Championship MVP award (Image obtained from : http://www.sjuhawks.com/sports/w-fieldh/spec-rel/080713aaa.html)

Christine Webb of the St. Louis Slam garnered Rookie of the Year honors. Also earning a nod as WFA Second Team All-American, Webb helped the 7-4 Slam to a postseason berth. The club would be eliminated in Week 13 at the hands of the eventual conference champion Dallas Diamonds by a 35-20 score.

Webb would lead all Slam players with 87 tackles, while ranking tenth overall in the league. Her 7 tackles for loss ranked third on the Slam while she
tied for second with 3.5 sacks, respectively.

The New Orleans Mojo were recognized as the WFA’s Rookie Team of the Year. Their first victory in franchise history would come during Week 4 as the Mojo bested the Acadiana Zydeco by a 32-12 tally.

While the team struggled through a 1-7 record in which they were outscored by a 300-38 total margin, there were some strong performances on defense. Allison Bott would lead the expansion franchise with three interceptions.

Sandra Scherberger and Yvette Schubert would emerge as defensive stars. Scherberger led the Mojo with 36.5 tackels, while Schubert was a defensive leader in three categories (tackles for loss, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries). Both would finish the season as All-America selections, with Schubert grabbing First-Team nods and Scherberger earning Second-Team accolades, respectively.

Yvette Schubert was named to the 2013 WFA All-Star Game (Image obtained from: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/yvette-sandra?c=gallery)

Yvette Schubert was named to the 2013 WFA All-Star Game (Image obtained from: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/yvette-sandra?c=gallery)

Having led his team to the WFA Championship game, Matthew Russell of the Dallas Diamonds was chosen as WFA Coach of the Year. His greatest legacy of the season may have been the sterling performance of the Diamonds defense. Having allowed only 20 points throughout the regular season, Russell coached the league’s number one ranked defense.

Owner of the Year honors was shared between two individuals; Linda Bache of the WFA Champion Chicago Force and Paul Hamlin of the DC Divas.
American Conference honors featured players from three different teams earning accolades. The one common factor between the three award recipients is that all three were First Team American Conference All-America selections.

Defensive Player of the Year nod went to Tarrah Philpott of the Pacific Warriors. Known affectionately as Tank, Philpott logged another solid season. Ranking third on the Warriors with four sacks and 59 tackles, of which 13.5 were for a loss, she also pulled double duty as a punter. In addition, she forced one fumble while recovering another.

Fundamentally sound, she is one of the rare women in professional football that is a second generation star. Her father, Ed Philpott, was a former competitor in the AFL and NFL with the Boston Patriots and San Diego Chargers.

Quarterback Chantel Wiggins of the Central Cal War Angels took home the Offensive Player of the Year Award. A former tennis star and coach with the Fresno State Bulldogs, she graduated with 63 career wins in 2002.

Former tennis player Chantel Wiggins extended her athletic career in football (Image obtained from: http://www.gobulldogs.com/sports/w-tennis/spec-rel/061406aaa.html)

Former tennis player Chantel Wiggins extended her athletic career in football (Image obtained from: http://www.gobulldogs.com/sports/w-tennis/spec-rel/061406aaa.html)

Ranking tenth in the WFA with a 94.0 passer rating, Wiggins’ 1,648 passing yards was third-best. She displayed great versatility with a storng running game that resulted in 17 rushing touchdowns, which ranked eighth overall.

The highly versatile Odessa Jenkins of the Dallas Diamonds grabbed the American Conference Most Valuable Player Award. Pulling double duty as running back and backup quarterback, she helped the Diamonds to a perfect 10-0 regular season mark.

Odessa Jenkins in action with Team USA (Image by Carey Navarette Photography)

Odessa Jenkins in action with Team USA (Image by Carey Navarette Photography)

Tying for seventh in the WFA with 18 rushing touchdowns, her 93.5 passer rating would rank 11th overall. During the regular season, she compiled 461 passing yards and 401 rushing yards, complemented by an impressive 9.8 yards per carry.

There was very little surprise when the recipients of the National Conference awards were announced. Defensive and Offensive Player of the Year Awards both went to members of the Chicago Force.

Darcy Leslie would earn the Defensive Player of the Year nod while being named First Team National Conference All-America. As she contributed to a defense that only allowed 60 points during the regular season, she racked up 49 tackles, an impressive 14 were for a loss. She would also lead the Force defense in forced fumbles while ranking second in interceptions.

The aspect that made Leslie even more valuable to the Force was her ability to also contribute to offense. Platooning at the running back position, Leslie logged 377 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, respectively.

Adding another award to her trophy case was First Team All-America Sami Grisafe. The WFA passing yards champion in 2013, she was named Offensive Player of the Year. The Force pivot led all passers with 2,582 yards, 780 yards more than second ranked Lisa Horton of the Pittsburgh Passion.
With an astounding 32 touchdowns, compared to only 3 interceptions, Grisafe led the Force to the number-one ranked offense in the WFA. Receivers
Jeanette Gray and Brandy Hatcher would rank first and second in the WFA in receiving yardage. Having racked up 495 total points, the Force offense averaged 529.4 yards per game.

Whitney Zelee had a season to remember in 2013 (Image obtained from: http://www.bostonmilitia.com/womens-football-roster.aspx?id=99 )

Whitney Zelee had a season to remember in 2013 (Image obtained from: http://www.bostonmilitia.com/womens-football-roster.aspx?id=99 )

As the first woman in professional women’s football history to accumulate a 2,000-yard rushing season, Whitney Zelee from the Boston Militia was a consensus choice. In only ten regular season games, Zelee pounded out 2,326 rushing yards.

Her 37 rushing touchdowns were far and away the gold standard among runners. Atlanta Phoenix running back Launa Sims was second overall with 24 touchdowns. Along with three receiving touchdowns, Zelee’s 40 total touchdowns also ranked first in the league.

Chicago Force ride high octane offense to first-ever WFA National Title

There was an air of electricity throughout San Diego’s Balboa Stadium as Sami Grisafe was entering the final game of her storied career. With the Chicago Force one win away from their first-ever WFA National Championship, the only obstacle left standing in their way was the Dallas Diamonds. Having defeated their first three postseason opponents by a combined score of 195-34, the Force were the favorites.

Photo credit by Derrick Tuscan

Photo credit by Derrick Tuscan

In a battle of undefeated squads, the Force entered the championship game with the WFA’s top-ranked offense, while the Dallas Diamonds boasted the league’s finest defense. Chicago scored 495 regular season points while racking an astounding 529.4 offensive yards per game. In the regular season, the Diamonds defense overwhelmed opponents, allowing only 20 points (compared to 60 for Chicago).

Alex Harvey was the sack leader during the regular season for the Diamonds with 5.5 while Nicole Coffin led the squad in tackles, interceptions and forced fumbles. The featured weapons on offense for the Diamonds were Odessa Jenkins and Brittany Satterwhite.

Jenkins, who helped the US team to a gold medal at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, led the club with 401 yards. Satterwhite led the Diamonds in combined yards from scrimmage with 813 (287 rushing, 526 receiving). Her 13 touchdowns paced all Diamonds, while Jenkins was close behind with 10.

Chicago’s offensive attack was well-balanced. While Sami Grisafe posted remarkable numbers with 2582 passing yards and 32 touchdowns, the running game was formidable. Employing a running back by committee, Mary Choules, Brandy Hatcher and Darcy Leslie combined for 1,457 rushing yards. The defense was anchored by the likes of Darcy Leslie (who pulled double duty with 49 tackles), Angel Smith (20 tackles for loss and five sacks) and Kim Marks, with eight sacks and three fumble recoveries, respectively.

Having competed in the 2012 WFA championships (the first contested in an NFL stadium), the Chicago Force came up short against the San Diego Surge by a 40-36 tally. Looking for redemption, the game had an emotional tone for Grisafe as her career came full circle.

Growing up in California, Grisafe would be the first female to play quarterback for a high school game in the state. With the additional momentum of having led the United States to the gold medal at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds in Finland, Grisafe was looking to add one more accolade to an impressive career.

Taking matters into her own hands, Grisafe would score the first touchdown of the game. With Charbonneau connecting on the extra point, Chicago enjoyed a 7-0 advantage. It would not take long for Chicago to add to their lead.

Jessica Javelet, looking for her second consecutive WFA title would add to Chicago’s lead with a touchdown as 4:58 remained in the quarter. Two minutes and 52 seconds later, Chicago added to their lead with another touchdown for a commanding 21-0 lead.

Looking to get back into the game, Dallas would reply with their own touchdown as 29 seconds remained in the high scoring quarter. A fifty-yard touchdown run placed Dallas on the scoreboard as the period expired with a 21-6 score.

Facing a 15-point deficit, Dallas tried to build on the momentum of their first touchdown but it was not meant to be. WFA All-American Jeanette Gray scored a touchdown as the Force extended their lead again. Merely two minutes and 18 seconds after Gray scored, Chicago was back on the scoreboard as Dallas faced a 36-6 setback.

While the top-ranked Dallas defense was overwhelmed by the rifle arm of Grisafe, the offense tried to keep the squad competitive. Scoring a touchdown with 11:44 remaining in the half, the Diamonds cut the Force’s lead to a 36-12 margin.

Before the half would expire, Chicago would respond with four touchdowns. Despite the best efforts of Dallas, including another touchdown with 3:36 left, the Force went into halftime with an insurmountable 62-20 lead.

Although Chicago managed only one touchdown in the third quarter, Dallas was overwhelmed and dejected. In the fourth, the squads would exchange touchdowns before Chicago put the game on ice with the final touchdown of the game. With 2:56 left, Chicago would make it an 81-34 advantage, which would also stand as the final score.

Quarterback Sami Grisafe and wide receiver Jessica Javelet from the Chicago Force were recognized as Chicago’s MVP’s in the contest. Grsiafe threw for an eye-opening eight touchdown passes while Javelet was impressive with 11 receptions for 213 yards and three touchdown receptions. Brittany Satterwhite from the Dallas Diamonds earned her team’s MVP award.

Having scored 276 points in four postseason contests, the Force were an offensive juggernaut, pounding their opponents into submission. Jessica Gray was also an essential component of the Force offense in the championship effort; 12 receptions, 213 yards and three touchdown receptions represented another banner day for the remarkable Gray.

Mary Choules, who platoons at the running back position with Darcy Leslie, Brandy Hatcher and Javelet contributed with 19 carries, 104 rushing yards and two rushing scores, complemented by one receiving TD.

In Grisafe’s swan song, she displayed the greatness that made her the WFA’s elite pivot for over half a decade. While she will prove to be a tough act to follow, her presence helped the league grow by a quantum leap. As she tackles a singing career, there is no question that she left a memorable impression on women’s football.

As head coach John Konecki (who also coached the US to gold in 2013) sees a future that brings with it the challenge of finding a new field general, he can find solace in the fact that with such a talent-heavy Force squad, the transition should be an easier one. For now, being able to celebrate a long-fought, hard-earned championship and share it with the loyal fans of Chicago provides Konecki and the franchise with its own rewards.