One of the finest and most accomplished female wide receivers in the world, Adrienne Smith is truly in a class all her own. Not only has she helped the United States capture gold twice at the IFAF Women’s Worlds, she registered the first touchdown in the history of the event in 2010.
For Smith, the opportunity to make history is also a positive example of empowering women and teaching them to follow their dreams. Having grown up in Alexandria, Virginia, she is also a businesswoman hoping to make the dream of a professional women’s football league a reality.
Competing for Team USA in 2013, she would emerge as the leader in four offensive categories; receiving yards (206), average yards per reception (29.4), longest reception (73 yards) and average yards per game (68.7). Of note, she would tie with Jessica Gray for the lead in touchdown receptions with three.
In the gold medal game against Canada, she had a team-best 117 yards receiving along with the team-best 73-yard reception from US quarterback Sami Grisafe. One of only six US players to catch at least one pass in every game, she was also one of only two players (the other being Gray) to register a touchdown in every game too.
When not donning the US jersey, she can be seen in the Women’s Football Alliance competing on the gridiron for the Boston Militia. As a side note, Militia teammates Mia Brickhouse, Victoria Eddy and Stephanie Jeffers were also part of the US contingent in 2013.
Playing alongside the likes of quarterback Allison Cahill and record-breaking running back Whitney Zelee as teammates with the Militia, the presence of this titanic trio on the gridiron led to an undefeated regular season in 2013. They are certainly reminiscent of the Dallas Cowboys “triplets” of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith.
As Zelee became the first player in female football to accumulate 2,000 rushing yards in a season, it would be easy to overlook the remarkable achievements of Smith. Possessing an exceptional desire to win, Smith proved to be an invaluable component of the passing game as she led all Militia players in receptions (24) and receiving yardage (380). Of note, she would rank fifth overall in touchdowns for a Militia squad that averaged an impressive 534.1 yards of offense per game.
Off the football field, she has contributed equally impressive heroics. Possessing an MBA in Media & Entertainment from Columbia Business School, as well as television and film production experience, it served as a motivational factor in starting a film project that would document Team USA’s road towards gold in 2013.
“In January 2013, I contacted USA Football and asked permission to produce a documentary about the U.S. women’s national tackle football team. As a member of the 2010 U.S. women’s national tackle football team, I felt it extremely important that in 2013, some record be made as to the accomplishments my teammates and I were about to achieve. I received the greenlight from USA Football and proceeded to develop the documentary under the title of “Gridiron Queendom“.”
Not only would the documentary film serve as one of her greatest legacies to the game, it would also serve as one of its gifts. Working with Sasha Santiago, a friend with directing experience, and former teammate Leeann Brzozowski, they would form the core of the original production team
“From there, I met with Mark Waller, Chief Marketing Officer for the NFL, to discuss my plans for the U.S. women’s football team documentary. I originally met Mark at the 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas. I kept in contact with him over the years and was extremely grateful for the tremendous support he provided. Mark rolled out the proverbial “red carpet” in terms of the access he granted me and my production team.
(Starting) from January to June of 2013 I was able to secure some fantastic footage including interviews with players such as Deion Sanders and Geno Smith, who discussed their views on women and girls playing football. I also worked diligently to develop the film in other areas including a crowd-funding campaign that Sasha and I launched via Indiegogo.com.”
As the WFA regular season and the IFAF Women’s Worlds were arriving quickly, Smith understood that it would be essential to find a partner. In order to balance her time preparing for the gridiron, while ensuring that her dream of bringing the documentary to reality would proceed, a husband and wife production team would build on the foundation that Smith already established.
“In April I began to realize that my vision for the documentary about the U.S. women’s national tackle football team was too large for me to accomplish on my own. It would be too difficult to be a member of the national team and try to shoot the film at the same time, so I began searching for another production company with which I could partner. In June, I decided to partner with Pyewackitt Productions as they were an established and seasoned production company that could help me bring my vision for the documentary to fruition.”
While the title would change from Gridiron Queendom to The Tackle Girls, both names have proven to be synonymous with the empowering message of female football. The end result was the preservation of a special moment in time, one that would capture the essence of dedication and perseverance, two of the qualities needed to become a world championship team.
A watershed moment for The Tackle Girls documentary came during Super Bowl Week in New York City when Pyewackitt Productions hosted a private screening of the film. Sami Grisafe, the starting quarterback for Team USA, was also in NYC for this remarkable moment. A talented musician, Grisafe’s music was featured in the documentary which celebrates a landmark moment for female sport in America. She also preformed shows during Super Bowl week at clubs in Brooklyn, New York and Asbury Park, New Jersey.
In the meanwhile, Gridiron Queendom has become the name of Smith’s new company. With a website that is serving as the ultimate destination for women and girls who are fans and/or players of the gridiron game, it is another avenue for Smith to express her ambitions while creating a community based on mutual respect and a love for the game.
Like many of the remarkable women that engage in the gridiron game, Smith is part of a pioneering generation which is breaking barriers and inspiring young girls to not only pursue their dreams, but provide them with the self-esteem to accomplish them. The ability to supply such confidence is one that could never be measured by the number of championships or statistics that one accumulates in a career, it encompasses a spirit that makes one a winner before the game even begins.