Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Not Just for Men

Today I’m taking a little break from running and food talk, to talk about something else that I don’t think a lot of people are aware of: The Women’s Football Alliance (WFA). A friend of mine from college, Tracy, is in her 2nd season with the Keystone Assault, a team that plays full-contact football in Enola, PA.

Originally from Clarkston, Michigan, Tracy was always very active, playing many sports throughout the years, although softball and marching band (yes, considered a sport by those involved) were her favorite. At MSU, she was a section leader in the Spartan Marching Band and Spartan Brass, which performs at basketball and hockey games. After graduation, she lived in New Jersey for four years before moving to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where she spends her days as the Sr. Art Director for a marketing and communications firm.

Truthfully, I had no idea what Tracy was talking about when she first told me she was starting to play football. I had no idea there was a women’s league in this country, although I had met a woman in Germany who plays in a league there. I thought it was really interesting that there is this league of active women playing one of America’s greatest sports that gets very little attention. Recently I asked Tracy to tell us a bit about the WFA since it is a great way for women to stay active and deserves more attention. Here is what she told me:

EMR: Can you tell us about the Women’s Football Alliance and the Keystone Assault?
TK: The Keystone Assault was formed in 2008 by area players and coaches who had experience with another local team. Our Coach, Tim Smart is fantastic and has several years of experience coaching women’s football. The WFA is consists of 41 teams - from Philadelphia all the way to San Diego.

EMR: How is the league organized? How long is the season?
TK: The league is organized in two conferences (National and American) and 11 regions. We held tryouts in September and October and we started conditioning in November. Full-gear practices start in January. We practice Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for two hours each. The season length depends on how well we play during the season! The regular season begins in April and ends mid-June. Playoffs run into July.

EMR: How often do you travel for games?
TK: We have four away games this season. We are responsible for our own travel, but we car pool. We travel to Connecticut, NY, Baltimore and NJ this season.

EMR: What pre-conceptions did you have about women’s football when you were just getting into it? Did they turn out to be true?
TK: I had the help of YouTube. There were a lot of videos out there of different teams. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. I was right, it's definitely NOT powder puff. It's real. It's dangerous. You can get hurt. But - it can be fun, after all, it's supposed to be fun.

EMR: Can you describe the average player?
TK: I adore my teammates. Their backgrounds and ages vary. There are moms, working professionals, we even have a flight nurse and doctor on our team. Children are always welcome at practice.

EMR: How long have you been playing and why did you decide to start?
TK: This is my second season on the team. I started after my boyfriend, Tommy, encouraged me to do so. It was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself. I have met so many wonderful people and playing has given me the opportunity to return to my athletic roots. EMR: What keeps you playing? TK: The women I play football with and the coaches who coach me keep me going. It's such a great feeling being a part of a team that has a common goal. Although it's tough, I love it, because it's fun.

EMR: What type of reaction do you get when you tell someone for the first time that you play full-contact football?
TK: The same reaction almost every time; "Full-contact?" "Do you wear pads?" "Like REAL football?"

EMR: You were voted Team Captain this season. What all does that entail? What is your leadership style?
TK: I was voted one of 4 team captains by my peers. It entails a few things, leading warm ups, keeping spirits up and representing the team on game days. My style is simple, I'm not mean, I give positive reinforcement and try to pump my teammates up whenever I can. I'm use to leading people and I love it. (Reminds me of my Band days at MSU.) It is an honor to be a captain of this football team. We are so talented and this season is our opportunity to make a statement in the league.

EMR: What is game day like?
TK: Wow, I know I don't have to tell you about game day… Game Day is AMAZING it is our opportunity to show what we are made of. And it gives us the opportunity to hit someone else, instead of each other.

EMR: Why should people attend a Keystone Assault game?
TK: People should come to a game because they will experience something amazing and a little random. We're a part of the community and it's an inexpensive way to spend a Saturday with your family. And, it's one of those thing-you really need to see to believe. Women CAN and do play football.

EMR: What are your hopes for the team and league?
TK: This year our goal is to beat Philadelphia, Baltimore and make the playoffs. We are going to make a statement. We're under the radar, and it's our opportunity to show everyone how good we are.

Click HERE for more info on the Keystone Assault!

GOTR Fundraiser Reminder: if you're in NYC, come out to Lugo Caffe tomorrow night, 6-8pm to support the local chapter of Girls on the Run! Not only will 15% of all proceeds go to GOTRM, but there will be great raffle prizes (like a tour of the Teen Vogue office, Bootcamp classes, and restaurant gift certificates) and a pretty incredible silent auction including signed sports memorabilia, Yankee's tickets, and a necklace from Tiffany's. Plus, you'll get to meet me!

Workout Stats -
14mi bike
3x10 hammer curls
3x10 bicep curls
3x10 side arm lifts
3x10 weighted side bends (ea side)
3x10 weighted seated twists
stretching & foam roller

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