Do you remember hearing about women’s football? The teams had names like Vixens, Voodoo Dolls and Herricanes. Well, guess what, it is still here and Women’s football has not only survived, it has grown. With size came organization. They’ve got conferences, divisions, playoffs and title games -- the whole schmeer!

There are the five (yes, five!) women’s football leagues. WAFL, WPFL, WSFL, IWFL, LTFL. This year almost sixty teams are conducting tryouts. They’re playing year round and coast to coast.

The teams of the WAFL just wrapped up their third season. Their Pacific Conference has teams in Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Hawaii, Phoenix, Rose City (Oregon) plus two near LA.

Although women’s football has not gained the publicity it deserves, people are beginning to inquire about this intensely provocative sport. The big question being: How good are they? All admit talent is spotty, but at their best, women’s teams could compete with male teams of comparable size.

Case in point: The Seattle Warbirds.

They break from the huddle like they’ve taken ten thousand snaps. They hit their spots like robots and for an icy instant they’re a menacing tableau, then - Hut! Hut! Hut! The snap! The QB turns and pounds the ball into the gut of a 140 pound locomotive. The guards pull like bulldogs on broken chains. They turn the corner looking for somebody to hit. A safety takes the challenge. The pads pop like pistols. You feel the concussion through the soles of your shoes. Jagged clods of dirt loft into the air and a linebacker bellows, “Put that girl downnnnn!”

Holy jockstraps! This is real football!

Who are these women and where do they come from?

A look at the San Francisco Tsunami sideline before opening kickoff shows the various units gathering in small knots. Quarterback Heather Bruno, ponytail poking out from her helmet, moves methodically from group to group. Bruno loves every molecule of the game and it shows. She takes the big hit and bounces up like a spring. When the whistle blows there’s nothing on her mind but the next play. She just graduated and has one eye on the advertising business. She is definitely management material.

Five mornings a week Shea Cannon gets her family off to job, school and daycare. Her own workday is delivering office supplies. On Saturdays she’s a defensive lineman. She’s fueled by her husband’s support and her teammates’ heart. She’s prouder of her family and team than she has words to express. She cracks a big smile when telling that her co-workers are finally coming to a game.

Pashen Bagsby has the best swagger of any running back in football. She’s earned it. One hundred and forty pounds of estrogen, muscle and cleats. She lines up blockers; takes on tacklers. She’d play six quarters if they’d let her.

These women all have one thing in common. They’re at ease, at ease with the world and at ease with themselves. They have a complete and quiet faith in the overall rightness of what they’re doing.

Are they coming back next season?




All Photography Larry Roszkowiak

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© Melt Magazine 2001