Return of Smash Sisters essential for Seattle Mist’s championship ambitions

In an effort to capture the elusive championship, the spirits of the Seattle Mist are bolstered by the return of the sensational Smash Sisters. Both hailing from British Columbia, Stevi Schnoor and Deanne Schaper-Kotter were solid fan favorites in 2014, as both contributed to another postseason appearance for the proud Mist franchise.

A pair of two-sport stars, Schnoor’s athletic background included a stint on Canada’s national rugby women’s team. Schaper-Kotter competed in volleyball at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level. Having first met at BC Angels training camp in 2013, the nickname quickly stuck as the two developed a strong rapport on the field. This season, both are focus to help the Mist reach even greater heights.

Quite possibly the most successful franchise to have not yet captured a championship, nothing would satisfy the Smash Sisters more than the chance to reward the loyalty of the Mist’s rabid fan base. Of note, the Mist also features the likes of Jessica Hopkins, who played alongside Schnoor when the BC Angels capture a Canadian championship in 2012.

The three shall compose a titanic trio of veteran leadership as the Mist features several new faces. Including rookie free safety Kadi Findling, the franchise has welcomed quarterback KK Matheny and wide receiver Bryn Renda from the now defunct Jacksonville Breeze and one-time Mist competitor Danika Brace, who spent the last two seasons with the Las Vegas Sin.

Statistically, Schnoor was an essential component for the Mist’s running game, accounting for over 50% of the team’s rushing yardage. Many of her bursting runs came behind the blocking of the statuesque Schaper-Kotter. One of the tallest girls in the entire league, Schaper-Kotter was one of the most underrated competitors in league play, providing a solid presence on the Mist’s offensive line corps.

Heading into the 2015 season opener, the two shall be among a very well-rested Mist roster. Of all the clubs in season play, the Mist are the last to actually grace the gridiron.
Competing against their divisional archrivals, the Los Angeles Temptation, in the opener, the rest may prove to be an essential factor.

Of note, the two engaged in a hard-fought, see-saw battle in the opening round of last year’s playoffs, which saw Schnoor run to daylight for a touchdown. Motivation is high to avenge the visceral loss as the two clubs comprise one of the best rivalries in female football.

In all likelihood, the Western Conference title shall be determined between these two bitter rivals in 2015. With renewed energy and high motivation, expect the Smash Sisters to bring an even greater determination to fulfill their championship desires.

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Football star and pop culture icon Mikayla Wingle aimed for Second Chance at Survivor

Mikayla Wingle (also known affectionately as Miki) is best remembered by sports fans for her time competing in the football hotbed of Florida with the LFL. Although she no longer graces the gridiron, Wingle’s impact as a fan favorite was certainly not forgotten. When TMZ Sports collaborated with the LFL to issue a list of the 50 Hottest Players of All-Time, Wingle ranked 16th.

Originally from the Garden State of New Jersey (growing up in Stanhope), Wingle’s aspirations for a modeling career would eventually lead her to Florida. Unforeseen at the time, the relocation would result in an opportunity to take part in a unique chapter of female football.

With a lifelong love of sport, Wingle’s athletic drive and competitive nature on the field of play made her a perfect fit for the launch of the incipient LFL. Competing for the Tampa Breeze franchise (in later years, they would relocate to Jacksonville); Wingle played alongside the likes of quarterback KK Matheny, two-sport star Saige Steinmetz and the very popular Liz Gorman.

Taking into account that games from the 2011 season were broadcast on cable network MTV2, Wingle became part of a football sorority whose influence went far beyond the gridiron. Earning a celebrity status and a large gathering of fans via social media, Wingle became part of a sporting revolution. The result of such popularity led to Wingle’s first brush with popular culture, when she landed on the cover of Playboy (she would also get the opportunity to meet founder Hugh Hefner). Inside the pages, she set pulses racing as she appeared in a complete state of undress along with several other competitors from the LFL.

Appearing on the Playboy cover would prove to be the springboard to future opportunities, including the chance to be a contestant on the very popular and groundbreaking Survivor TV show airing on CBS. A cast member on Survivor: South Pacific, Wingle was a member of the Upolu Tribe. As a side note, Wingle is not the only athlete to have appeared on the program. Former Cardinals quarterback Gary Hogeboom and former WWE Diva (and Playboy cover girl as well) Ashley Massaro also competed in previous seasons.

Mikayla Wingle, during the second episode, of SURVIVOR: SOUTH PACIFIC Wednesday, September 21 (8:00 - 9:30 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. #Survivor Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. (Obtained from: http://survivor.wikia.com/wiki/File:Mikayla_Wingle_-_South_Pacific_2.jpg)

Mikayla Wingle, during the second episode, of SURVIVOR: SOUTH PACIFIC Wednesday, September 21 (8:00 – 9:30 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. #Survivor Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. (Obtained from: http://survivor.wikia.com/wiki/File:Mikayla_Wingle_-_South_Pacific_2.jpg)

Although Wingle was one of the earlier contestants to be eliminated, the chance to be on the program strengthened the bond with her mother. Having mentioned in promotions for the season of Survivor: South Pacific that her mother was a source of inspiration, (along with her brother, they were both raised without a father), and it definitely made her an emotional favorite with fans.

Of note, Survivor debuted in 2000 when Wingle was 10, and it had been her mother’s favorite show ever since. As it was mandatory viewing in their household, the chance for her to actually become a contestant on a program that she grew up watching resulted in feelings of jubilation and excitement for her proud mother.

From the outset, she was perceived as one of the strongest women among the competitors. Having not made an alliance, Brandon Hantz convinced others to vote her off as rumors indicated that he felt awkward around her. Sadly, she was voted off on Day 16. Despite the bitter end, her popularity on Survivor led to being featured in Sports Illustrated’s popular Extra Mustard feature. As a side note, Las Vegas Sin competitor Cynthia Schmidt has also earned the Extra Mustard treatment.

Competing on the bodybuilding tour (Image obtained from: http://gallery.rxmuscle.com/index.php?contest=31&year=1017&bodybuilder=59715)

Competing on the bodybuilding tour (Image obtained from: http://gallery.rxmuscle.com/index.php?contest=31&year=1017&bodybuilder=59715)

Earlier this year, she was one of 32 former contestants that were eligible for a chance to participate in a special season of Survivor titled Second Chances, to be filmed in Cambodia. Although she was not able to secure enough online votes to earn a spot, her presence would have made for great television.

Currently, Wingle is engaging in her aspirations to become a professional body building competitor. As a side note, other LFL stars such as Christine Moore (Seattle Mist) and Ashley Richter (Regina Rage) have also engaged in similar paths. She would finish in third place at the 2014 NPC Junior USA Championships.

From her gridiron career to her status as a television reality star, Wingle’s popularity does not stem just from her beauty. The secret of her success comes from the strength and independence that makes her an empowered woman.

#mikayla-wingle, #tampa-breeze

Regina Riot host archrivals in inaugural Teal Game for Cancer Research

Hosting their archrivals the Saskatoon Valkyries, the Regina Riot played with a strong sense of purpose. Of note, the club hosted their first-ever “Teal Game”, raising funds in support of the Ovarian Cancer Canada Regina Walk of Hope. Playing under the lights at Mosaic Centre, the contest finished in a 28-19 final for the Valkyries.

Riot head coach with teal ribbon logo on ball cap (Photo credit: Wanda Harron)

Riot head coach with teal ribbon logo on ball cap (Photo credit: Wanda Harron)

Elite signal caller Aimee Kowalski had built up strong momentum in the first half. Finding both Alex Kowalski and Claire Dore for touchdowns, her efforts were complemented by a field goal from Morgan Turner, as the Riot held a 16-14 halftime lead.

Making adjustments in the second half, the Valkyries retained their hold on first place in the Prairie Conference by mounting a comeback.

Despite the loss, there were some encouraging performances that will contribute to the Riot’s confidence in a May 30 rematch with the club. A blocked punt and a fumble recovery were confidence builders for the Riot, despite the victory.

Amanda and Courtney Tafelmeyer grace the field with proud group of volunteers (Photo credit: Wanda Harron)

Amanda and Courtney Tafelmeyer grace the field with proud group of volunteers (Photo credit: Wanda Harron)

In addition, numerous members of the Riot defense made some big plays. Katie Rogal, a veteran defensive lineman registered a sack in the contest while Mallory Starkey added an impressive tackle in the backfield. Rookie safety Mira Trebilcock is establishing herself as a star in the making with an interception on Valkyries quarterback Stacey Boldt.

The real victory was the money raised for a noble cause. As the Riot continue to extend their presence in the community, the joint initiative with the Regina Walk of Hope is testament to their role as sporting humanitarians.

After the game, sisters Amanda and Courtney Tafelmeyer brought some volunteers from the Regina Walk of Hope to the field for a photograph as a gesture of gratitude. Through efforts such as ticket sales, donations, merchandise and food sales, the Riot raised $1,507.

#amanda-tafelmeyer, #courtney-tafelmeyer, #mira-trebilcock, #regina-riot, #saskatoon-valkyries, #wwcfl

Cynthia Schmidt earns recognition on popular Extra Mustard online feature

Building momentum in the aftermath of the Las Vegas Sin’s season opener against the Los Angeles Temptation, SI.com featured veteran player Cynthia Schmidt. Appearing on the site’s Extra Mustard segment, blending various aspects of pop culture, while incorporating entertainment, Schmidt was part of the daily Babe of the Day feature.

SIExtraMustardCynthiaSchmidt

Considering that SI.com’s companion magazine, Sports Illustrated, is famous for its annual Swimsuit Issue, Sin fans would certainly welcome the concept of Schmidt possibly gracing its pages. Representing a great career milestone for Schmidt, it not only raises the profile of her club team, but it may generate many new fans.

Such recognition builds on the momentum set by fellow player Alli Alberts. Having enjoyed a postgame beer in the aftermath of being named the Player of the Game, Alberts made national news. Video footage would go viral online, reaching over 1 million hits, generating interest from as far as Russia.

Known affectionately as Megatron, the Indianapolis-raised Schmidt displayed strong athletic aptitude in her youth, competing in soccer, softball, swim and track. Also a 2011 alum of ROTC with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, she graduated with a major in Criminal Justice. Commissioned in 2010 as a Military Intelligence Officer, Schmidt is more than must a pretty face.

Before relocating to Las Vegas, Schmidt already had some experience on the gridiron. In 2012, she competed for the Indy Crash in the Women’s Football Alliance, where the club finished with a 6-4 record. Of note, she ranked among the top 10 on the Crash in receiving yardage.

A Western Conference All-Star Selection in 2014, her background with the United States Army is testament to he strong leadership she brings to the gridiron. As a side note, she is not the only competitor in the Legends Football League with a military background. Atlanta Steam defensive captain Leanne Hardin is a member of the United States Air Force.

Among one of the most popular members of the Sin roster, her charisma and love of the game are complemented by an impressive athletic ability and film star looks. Despite the Sin losing the season opener against the Temptation, Schmidt contributed with a 26-yard reception. Of note, she will be relied upon to provide prime time performances for new head coach Willie Garrett as the Sin look to qualify for the postseason.

#cynthia-schmidt, #las-vegas-sin

Superstar running back Tamar Fennell lands in Las Vegas

Among one of the most accomplished running backs in the history of the Legendss Football League, Tamar Fennell brings her world class talents to the Las Vegas Sin. For a franchise in the second year of its rebuilding, her solid skills may help the process accelerate more rapidly.

With exciting young talents such as quarterback Sindy Cummings and receiver Markie Henderson, Fennell helps balance out the offensive attack with a solid running game. Making her Sin debut in a contest against the Los Angeles Temptation, Fennell provided a valiant effort accumulating 38 combined yards from scrimmage including a touchdown. Considering the Sin feature veteran talents such as Kelly Campbell and Cynthia Schmidt, Fennell helps them to fill in a leadership gap left by Danika Brace signing with the Seattle Mist.

Image obtained from Facebook

Image obtained from Facebook

Over the last several seasons, “I’ve been everywhere” could truly apply to Fennell’s sterling career. Having first established herself with the Cleveland Crush, her talent would bring her to the Saskatoon Sirens in 2012.

Playing alongside the likes of Heather Furr and Anne Erler, Fennell helped the Sirens capture the hearts and minds of Saskatoon football fans, among some of the most rapid in Canada. Having contributed to the Sirens appearance in the LFL Canada championship game, Fennell helped the squad score the most points during the regular season.

Returning to Cleveland in 2013, the following year would bring with it many changes for Fennell. Of note, 2014 would not only see the Crush move from Cleveland to Toledo, but she would sandwich in a season with LFL Australia, competing for the Queensland Brigade. As a side note, she was joined down under by the likes of other American stars such as Monique Gaxiola and Adrian Purnell.

As the only player to have scored touchdown in LFL play in the United States, Australia and Canada, her gridiron legacy is secure. The only achievement to elude Fennell is the chance to hoist the prestigious Legends Cup trophy. With an assiduous quarterback in Cummings, Fennell may prove to be the last piece of the puzzle towards a winning direction.

#las-vegas-sin, #sindy-cummings, #tamar-fennell

Saint John storms out to commanding win to open the 2015 MWFL season

During opening day of the 2015 MWFL season, the twelfth in its history, the Saint John Storm established themselves as one of the teams to beat. Entering this season as the defending league champions, it is a status that they are not ready to relinquish, as evidenced by their 66-0 trouncing of the Moncton Vipers, who have returned to MWFL play after not competing in 2014.

In the first forty seconds of the contest, the Storm got onto the scoreboard as Kait Girouard ran to daylight on a twenty yard play. Julie Edwards Rocca would catch a pass for the two-point conversion, resulting in an early 8-0 lead. It would set the tempo for the rest of the game as the Storm continued to find ways to score.

At the 7:49 mark, Moncton’s first possession resulted in a turnover. Saint John would reclaim the ball due to a quarterback sack by Kaitryn Sewell. It would only take 3:48 for Saint John to capitalize on the turnover with another touchdown.

Quarterback Trina Graves, who has also played on the offensive and defensive lines in her distinguished career, found Lori Boyles in the end zone on a sterling 55-yard scoring pass. Krystie Perry would catch the conversion as the quarter ended in a 16-0 advantage.

Heading into the second quarter, the Vipers tried to build momentum. Dale Murray would intercept a pass, trying to turn the tide her team’s favor. Unfortunately, the Vipers could not take advantage of the turnover. Trina Graves would redeem herself for the interception. Just 2:17 after Murray’s pick, Graves ran the ball seven yards into the end zone.

Fellow Storm player Lori Boyles (who also played with Graves on the Canadian national team) would add to the lead as she logged an interception with 7:59 remaining. Picking off veteran quarterback Jenny Miller, she returned it for a touchdown. With the Vipers unable to assemble any type of offensive attack, the score at halftime would show 28-0 for Saint John.

Once again, Dale Murray would try to strengthen the Vipers morale. Less than two minutes into the third quarter, she intercepted Graves, but the result was more struggles on offense for the Vipers. Only 47 seconds after the pick, Saint John not only regained the ball, but added to their already overwhelming lead. Edwards Rocca ran on an impressive 63-yard scoring run, making the score 34-0 for the Storm.

Despite their best efforts, the Vipers struggled throughout the game, as their one-year absence from league play showed. After Edwards Rocca’s touchdown, the Vipers continued to struggle on the offense, as a fumble was recovered by Kara Fillmore. On the very next play, Trina Graves found Krystie Perry on a 35-yard scoring pass.

Gaining her second touchdown of the game, Edwards Rocca opened the fourth quarter with a 47-yard scoring run. On the Storm’s next possession, Edwards Rocca scored on another impressive run, scampering 49 yards into the end zone. As a side note, the Storm succeeded on the two-point conversion with Perry making a reception.

With the game out of reach for the Vipers, the struggles continued. Merely 32 seconds later, quarterback Jenny Miller took a safety in the end zone.

Meanwhile, Edwards Rocca would add to her prime time performance. In the last minute of the game, she scored on a game-high 72 yard touchdown run, giving her over 200 yards in the game. Once again, Perry would score on the two-point conversion as the Storm’s season began on a very strong note.

#dale-murray, #jenny-miller, #julie-edwards-rocca, #kait-girouard, #krystie-perry, #lori-boyles, #moncton-vipers, #saint-john-storm, #trina-graves

Historic win adds to Kessie Stefanyk’s strong legacy with the Lethbridge Steel

Earning a win in her WWCFL coaching debut, Kessie Stefanyk made history twice in one day. From the outset, Stefanyk became the first female head coach in the history of the league. Roaming the sidelines with the Lethbridge Steel, their narrow 7-6 win over the Calgary Rage secure Stefanyk the honor of being the first female head coach to win a WWCFL regular season game.

A former quarterback for the Steel, Stefanyk led the squad to multiple appearances in the WWCFL championship game. With Christina Wipf (returning to the squad after missing 2014 due to maternity leave) inheriting the starting quarterback’s position, the purple and silver are hoping that 2015 shall be the year where they claim the elusive championship.

Also acting as the Steel’s offensive co-ordinator, Stefanyk remains humble about breaking the gender barrier. While she would like to be seen as just a coach, the reality is that she is setting a standard for other women in football to emulate. As a side note, University of Regina Tyler Mantyak alum is joining the Steel as assistant head coach

Perhaps her biggest luxury this season is the amount of players on the squad. In years past, the Steel had some of the lowest number of roster players throughout the WWCFL. It was a situation that Stefanyk was very familiar with, as the Steel overcame many odds to capture the Western Conference championship year after year.

This season, 33 players comprise the season roster. Despite almost half that number consisting of rookies suiting up this season (roster turnover tends to be 50 percent), Stefanyk can depend on key veterans. Players such as Jessica St. Goddard and Donnelly Sellers, who pulls double duty as team President, will be counted upon to provide encouragement and support in what promises to be a landmark season for Stefanyk and the Steel.

#kessie-stefanyk, #lethbridge-steel, #wwcfl