Women rule the football field

    It’s been a male adage for years. There’s no questioning the assumption; it has been shown countless times in countless scenarios, and stands among males as an irrefutable truth: Women and football don’t mix. When guys think of football and women, the most common association tends to be the cheerleaders on the sidelines.

    Well, heads up guys: These gals can play, too.

    The Women’s American Football League capped off its inaugural season Feb. 24 with the league’s first World Bowl held at Balboa Stadium in San Diego.

    The 16-team league kicked off last November, and culminated with a 30-14 win by the Long Beach-based California Quakes over the Jacksonville Dixie Blues. Quake Quarterback Mary Montgomery threw 17 regular-season touchdowns and led her team to victory by throwing for two touchdowns and 110 yards. Dixie Blues’ running back Rocky Brown rushed 29 times for 161 yards and accounted for both of the Jacksonville touchdowns.

    Most importantly, however, is the league, which was first envisioned in a 26-team format, and was able to complete a tough inaugural season Sunday and prove to everyone and themselves that women can indeed hold their own on the football field.

    The league basically uses the same rules as the National Football League, playing on a regulation field with four 15-minute quarters with a 25-second play-clock.

    The San Diego SunFire, the local WAFL team, was voted to host the World Bowl I by the league after finishing the season with the highest attendance, averaging 2,400 fans per home game despite its record of 5-5.

    However, the league struggled in its first year, as the top-finishing Quakes saw an average attendance of fewer than 500 fans. Most players were unpaid and were forced to buy their own equipment, with the only team funds coming from a few sponsorships and ticket sales.

    The SunFires are owned by Donna Fox, a former sports anchor who also plays running back for the San Diego team. Teammate Christina Suggett also pulls double-duty, serving as director of marketing and business development.

    The women on the team range from the 5-foot-4-inch, 118-pound Fox to the 5-foot-8-inch 250-pound offensive lineman Michelle “”Big Red”” Bryant.

    Now that the season has ended, many of the athletes will be participating in the San Diego SunFire Women’s Flag Football League beginning March 2. Tryouts for next year’s team will be held March 16 at Morley Field in Balboa Park.

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