Pretty.Strong. places Chicago Bliss in exciting new light

Blending elements from Hard Knocks and Hockey Wives, incorporating hard-hitting excitement and heartwarming empathy, Oxygen Network’s exploration into the world of female football is a stirring chronicle, documenting the most recent season of the Chicago Bliss. Premiering on October 6 at 10 pm, the docu-series takes a compelling look inside the lives of the female gladiators that grace the Bliss colors, both on and off the field.

Produced by Relativity Television and Ellen Rakieten Entertainment, the Executive Producers include Brad Bishop, Tom Forman and Ellen Rakieten. As the network has traditionally looked at young, multicultural women as its ideal demographic, there is no question that male viewers will also tune in, as they have comprised a large portion of the Bliss fanbase.

Promotional photo for Pretty.Strong (Image obtained from
Promotional photo for Pretty.Strong (Image obtained from

Competing in the Legends Football League, the women of the Bliss blend athleticism, respect for the game and its fans, along with a desire to succeed. As one of the league’s most popular franchises, the Bliss have appeared in three consecutive Legends Cup championship matches (2013-15), while capturing back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014.

Balancing full-time careers, relationships, family obligations and the demands of the gridiron, eight of its remarkable competitors are featured in the program. Viewers shall be introduced to a cast that includes the likes of wide receiver Alli Alberts, center Jamie Barwick, offensive lineman Deena Fagiano, quarterback Heather Furr, running back ChrisDell “Chrissy” Harris, offensive/defensive lineman Nneka Nwani, defensive lineman Yashi Rice and defensive lineman Chantell Taylor.

All unique and diverse individuals, their collaborative efforts on the gridiron represented a cohesive unit that dominated their conference opponents, culminating with an undefeated regular season. Statistically, Alberts was among the league leaders in both defensive and offensive categories, testament to her abilities. Among the highlights in 2015, Alli Alberts made worldwide news by chugging a beer on the field as part of a postgame celebration where she was recognized as the Player of the Game.

Having already seen her image utilized in promotional material for the program, Alli Alberts is poised to become a viewer favorite. Representing a new generation of football hero, Alberts juggles her love of the game with a promising career in dentistry. Growing up, her family had season tickets for the St. Louis Rams, although her initial sporting endeavors involved track and field plus volleyball.

Excelling in a previous sport quickly emerges as a theme among many of the cast members featured in Pretty.Strong. Starting quarterback Heather Furr, a candidate for the Legends Football League Hall of Fame in 2015, once played basketball at the collegiate level. As a side note, fellow teammate and cast member Nneka Nwani also competed on the hardcourt.

Furr is the heartbeat of the Bliss and has played with the team since its inaugural season. Despite her success, which includes two league MVP awards, Furr has approached a crossroads in her career. Thoughts of career, marriage and family have resulted in some very serious soul searching. Having actually retired in 2014, Furr came back within a few weeks as her absence from the game constituted a visceral loss.

The program is a great way for existing football fans to connect with their favorite players, while possibly attracting new fans. An even greater victory may be the opportunity to inspire women to grace the gridiron, opening the doors for women to pursue their sporting ambitions.

An added bonus for viewers shall be the exceptional presence on social media, poised to result in an even stronger connection to the cast and the game. In addition to a facebook page, fans can join in the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #PrettyStrong.

There is also an official site for the show with more than the obligatory exclusives consisting of videos and photos. Players shall be including blogs, covering a wide range of topics beyond the gridiron, such as dating, fitness and lifestyle. There is also an eight-week fitness challenge that looks to inspire. The “Pretty. Strong. Get Fit Challenge” features workout videos by the Bliss players themselves. Accommodating both the beginner and advanced levels, the Bliss players share their tremendous workout tips while also offering encouragement, a hallmark that defines female football.

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References: Oxygen Media


Author: markstaffieri

A proud supporter of women in sport. My influences in covering women's sport include Andria Hunter and Jaclyn Hawkins. Both are former women’s hockey players who created their own websites, providing a deeper insight for their respective sport. Unable to identify with multi-millionaire male athletes, the role of women in sport is one that provides inspiration while preserving the spirit of sportsmanship. My first exposure to women and sport came through Geraldine Heaney and her legendary goal at the 1990 Women's World Hockey Championships. By composing player profiles on women from all sports, it is my opportunity to give back to the female sporting community by showing gratitude for their hard work and effort. While women's hockey opened the door to a larger yet remarkable world of sport, the quantum leap in women's football and global growth of women's basketball have only helped to fuel my interest in the female game. Some of the athletes that I admire include Caroline Ouellette and Natalie Spooner (hockey), Lolo Jones (track), Connie Fekete and Sami Grisafe (football) plus Anne Erler and Heather Furr (LFL football). Other athletes consist of Sue Bird and Katie Smith (basketball) along with Barbara Mervin and Heather Moyse (rugby). In addition to my efforts on WordPress, I have also contributed to Bleacher Report, the Canadian Women's Hockey League, Hockey Canada, LFL Canada and Women's Hockey Life.

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