When you think of tackle football, what comes to mind? Likely, it is an image of a 250-pound male linebacker. But what if there was a place for women to score touchdowns, sack quarterbacks and play the game just as hard as the men do? Enter the Detroit Pride tackle football team of the Independent Women’s Football League.
This past season was the Pride’s inaugural campaign. Opening day was on April 25, which drew an audience of more than 500 people, and the season extended into late July, where the Pride took home the trophy for the Affiliate Bowl. The team competes in the Midwest division of the IWFL. As expected, there are certain cultural barriers that the women had to face, but they conquered them.
“The gender barrier actually helped the Pride because it’s only a barrier until somebody crosses it,” Rhonda Alford, co-founder and chief operating officer of the Detroit Pride, said. “In our experience, people are excited and interested to come and witness women’s pro tackle football firsthand. Our job as an organization is to make sure that we deliver a championship quality on the field, and a world-class experience for our fans and attendees.”
The Pride currently plays its home games at King High School in downtown Detroit. Games follow NCAA rules and regulations, with a few minor modifications, such as the size of the ball. The team currently consists of 30 players, but can carry up to 60 players on the active roster.
“Our team is made up of players from multiple sports like lacrosse, soccer and track,” said Warren Griffin, Jr., co-founder and chief creative officer. “Some players have previous football experience, but most came to us with zero experience and were coached up into being the champions they are today!”
There are many rewarding and fulfilling things about being part of this new organization for Alford and Griffin, Jr. Alford said that her favorite part of being a member of the Detroit Pride is watching the brand, players and overall awareness of women’s pro tackle football develop at once.
If you are interested in joining the Detroit Pride for the 2016 season, the team has tryouts tentatively set for Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. Keep up on the website for updates.
“We are actively looking for the best and most dedicated to join the Pride,” said Griffin, Jr.