This Saturday, June 30, 2012, the Chicago Force Women’s Tackle Football team enters the playoffs with an 8-0 record and an average of 53.1 points per game. The team has dominated its opponents in every game – beating two teams by more than 70 points – and never allowed more than two touchdowns in a game.
Marketing director and former player Jen Thompson attributes the Force’s strength to being one of the oldest teams in the league, which has given them time to learn the game and how to work with one another.
The Force is in its 10th year, and about two-thirds of the team is made up of returning players. This is a huge advantage because many of the women on the team weren’t allowed to play football growing up, so they had to learn the language of the game when they started playing, Thompson said.
She said the first year is always the hardest, and the second year is when the women start to really have fun. It also doesn’t hurt that the team has acquired Melissa Smith, who is arguably the best running back in the league.
The women on the team pay to play, covering their own travel expenses for away games and the cost of their gear. They don’t see it as an extra hurdle, though – to them, it’s just another thing they have to do to play the game they love, Thompson said. Meanwhile, many of their male counterparts won’t sign a contract with a team if they aren’t offered a large enough salary.
Thompson said the women go to such lengths to be allowed to play to ensure that there’s a future for the little girls in their lives. Growing up, these women were told they couldn’t play football and that they couldn’t be professional players for nearly any sport. About a third of the team has daughters or nieces who look up to them, and they don’t want these little girls to have their dreams crushed because people think they aren’t strong enough or tough enough to play football, she said.
The Chicago Force takes the title of role model seriously and they know they’re paving the way for female athletes everywhere.
The Force takes on the Indy Crash this Saturday at 5 p.m. at Lazier Field in Evanston, 2285 Church St. The Force has played the Crash before, which gives them confidence going into the game, but The Crash want this win just as badly, Thompson said. It’s sure to be an exciting game, and you won’t want to miss the team in action!
(Photo credit: Mel Ferrand)