Those who know me, know what a huge fan I am of the CFL, and more specifically, the Calgary Stampeders. This spring I decided to push myself to a new level of football love. I joined a women's tackle football (WTF!) team.
The Calgary Rage of the Western Women's Canadian Football League (WWCFL) took me into their fold in February of this year. I started out going to classroom sessions to learn the basics of offense and defense, and more of the detailed intricacies of offensive plays and defensive formations.
By March, we'd moved on to indoor training. Tackling drills, proper stances, and oh my lord the running. Forward, backward, side shuffling... you name it, we ran it.
April arrived and we hit the outdoor field. Drills, running plays, and of course, running. And more running.
At the beginning of May, the team went on a weekend road trip to Saskatoon for a "football jamboree" - 4 mini games against other budding female footballers. I was unable to play due to a muscle tear I sustained at a practice, but I did my best from the sidelines to encourage my teammates and learn as much as I could.
Finally, on May 14, I played my first game as a member of the Calgary Rage. It was a win over the Lethbridge Steel (28-14) and although I didn't perform as well as I could have, it was the most exciting thing I'd done for a long time. Until yesterday.
May 21 found us in Edmonton for a match against the Edmonton Storm. The scoreboard said it was a loss, but I made my first real tackle as a football player and will never forget the feeling. It scares me a little to think that I am capable of running full speed toward another woman with the sole intention of knocking her on her ass. And knock her on her ass I did! She didn't see me coming, and I'm sure she had no idea what hit her. I have never felt such a rush. I understand now what my coaches were saying all this time about getting that rush of adrenaline. It's a day later, and thinking about it still gets my heart pumping harder.
When I started with the team, I was nervous about the hitting part of the game. I had no idea what to expect, physically or mentally. Now that I've had my first taste of real contact, I can honestly say I LOVE THIS GAME.
Apart from being in the best shape ever in my life, I've already benefitted so much from joining this team. Win or lose, the bonds I've made with my teammates and coaches are some of the deepest of my adult life. When you stand on that field with 11 other women who rely on each other to get a job done and protect each other, you become a family. That's a part of the game I could never have imagined.
I love my Rage family.