Women's Professional Football
In a league of their own, players tackle toughest sport
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
When you hear the word football, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Touchdown? Tackle? Tough? Men? Well, there’s a group of women hoping to change that last part.
The New York Sharks, a women’s professional football team, is starting their eighth season in the IWFL’s (Independent Women’s Football League), Eastern Division of the National Conference. And they’ve come a long way, baby!
Back in 1926, women played strictly as half-time entertainment at men’s games. Now they have a league of their own.
That’s why, on a windy weekend in February, 130 women came out to the Sharks tryout at Monsignor Farrell High School on Staten Island in New York City. They wanted to fulfill their lifelong dream of hitting the field.
“I was born to play football,” said standout wide receiver Jennifer Blum. “I used to sleep with my football when I was a little girl. My dream was always to play in the NFL.”
So to impress the coaches, the female football hopefuls ran drills and sprints around a high school field in frigid temperatures.
“I’ve never seen so many talented women come out like this year,” said Crystal Turpin, manager of the Sharks since 1999. “There have been a lot of women who have wanted to play, but never had the venue. It’s awesome.”
|Brooke McKinney, who is trying out to play for the Sharks, a women’s professional football team, talks to Scholastic Kid Reporter Hayley Livingston in Staten Island, New York, in February 2007. (Photo courtesy Hayley Livingston)|
It’s quite a sacrifice to play in the league. Players have to pay team dues. They also have to foot the bill for all their equipment, which includes helmets, shoulder pads, and cleats.
There’s also the sacrifice of time. Most players have full-time jobs. If they make the team, they will have to attend practice four times a week from 7 to 10 pm. It’s even harder on players who are mothers. They have to juggle football, work, and child care!
It’s no wonder these women are considered role models by young girls. ”I have nieces that I know look up to me regarding my work ethic and the way I play sports and things like that,“ said rookie Ann Daley. “It’s nice to be admired.”