In the aftermath of the 2013 LFL Canada season being cancelled, a dark cloud hovered over the Calgary Fillies franchise. As disputes over safety concerns were played out in print and social media, it seemed like the team would implode. After several players and trainers left the franchise in frustration, the path towards resuscitation was one that seemed fraught with challenges and obstacles.
Rather than linger over the past, a determination to strive forward would serve as a defining moment for the remarkable women who chose to stay with the Fillies. Joined by new coaches and players to replace those that moved on, an attitude of ambition and determination was injected into the new-look squad.
Part of the first wave of players that remained with the squad was Tenille Lowry. As a mother, this athletic endeavor not only forced her out of her comfort zone but helped to provide her with confidence. Despite league officials having pushed the reset button on the season, forcing the Fillies to wait until 2014 to make their highly anticipated debut, Lowry discussed her motivation to continue,
“What has kept me motivated to keep playing is really two things. I have been able to step out of my box by doing some things I never would have done before as I am kind of a simple girl. So doing the photo shoots and working really hard to keep myself in shape, as I would be in the public eye, has been really great for my confidence as I am a 36 year-old mom of a two year-old girl and a four year-old boy.
The other (motivating factor) is that my husband is my biggest fan. Also, I have never played football but am very into sports. I grew very quickly to love the game as well as how physical it is and I just love it. Yes, I am looking very forward to the upcoming season as we will be very prepared and in great shape and I believe we will have a great team.”
While the cancelled 2013 season can only offer what might have been, there is a tremendous feeling of optimism going forward. The ability to remain unified as a team and maintain their focus to keep working towards making their gridiron dreams come true is symbolic of the strength and tenacity these wondrous women possess.
Lowry acknowledged that the first wave of players that still call themselves Fillies have had an impact on her.
“I also wanted to add that the original girls that stayed with the team also had a lot to do with why I stayed playing. We were all great support for each other. They are a great group of girls as well as great motivators when it comes to practicing hard and keeping ourselves in shape.”
Practicing outdoors in the unforgiving climate of an Alberta autumn, it is testament to their dedication, while cultivating the toughness and character that will be needed to excel on the gridiron. Although the anticipation of the inaugural season brings with it the unknown of how they shall fare in the standings, in the hearts and minds of devoted fans and friends, this is already a group of champions.