Heading into 2014, women’s football in Minnesota suffered a setback when an indoor football league opted to not field a team at Target Center (the franchise in Philadelphia was another casualty of such a decision). For a group of empowered women that competed with the Minnesota Valkyrie, it was a heartbreaking decision. From working tirelessly to building a fan base, helping to sell tickets, complemented by admirable charitable work, a better outcome was deserved.
Despite such setbacks, it would prove to be an advantage for the Minnesota Machine of the Women’s Football Alliance. Among the former Valkyrie competitors that opted to suit up for the Machine, Lisa Bastien would emerge as a franchise player. Playing for head coach Heather Baker, one of the few women in football to serve as head coach, the results were evident as Bastien’s commitment to the game resulted in strong statistical numbers.
Joined by fellow Valkyrie teammates such as Alicia Marchioni, Kelli Gillispie (who would rank third on the team in tackles) and Laurie Jo Morrison, it added an exciting new dimension to the budding Machine. A real estate agent by day, Bastien was a football superhero by night. An integral component on the field, Bastien was the team’s leader in all-purpose yardage with 1,002. Ranking second to Bastien was Erica Mois with 626. In addition, Bastien logged a team-best 407 rushing yards, complemented by 451 return yards on kickoffs, which topped all players for the Machine as well as all competitors in the WFA.
One of three Machine players to earn First-Team All-America nods (she was joined by Erica Mois at Wide Receiver and Amanda Ritzer at Tight End), she would also rank second on the club in interceptions and pass deflections. Their efforts would contribute to a proud playoff victory against the Tulsa Threat by a 35-13 tally, raising team morale and confidence for 2015.
Taking into account that Bastien is over 30, her role as one of the top performers on the Machine was absolutely inspiring. In so many sports, the age of 30 is seen as the beginning of an athlete’s decline. Proving that age is simply a state of mind, Bastien’s effort to maintaining good health and strong physical condition set a positive example.
Bastien is part of a movement in female football where many strong women are excelling past the age of 30, challenging convention and making an empowering statement. Proclaiming that effort and desire cannot be measured simply by numbers, the heart of a player is equally important. As the Machine’s long-term goals are to be one of the WFA’s elite franchises in the Midwest, akin to the impact of the Chicago Force, the efforts of Bastien are propelling the franchise in the right direction.