Living legend Sami Grisafe literally reaches new heights

Working towards female football culturally relevant, Sami Grisafe is one of the sport’s avatars. A multi-talented athlete whose empowering legend can be traced back to her youth where barriers were first broken down, she brings broader attention to the game.

Returning to the Chicago Force in 2017, after a three-year absence from the game, it already represents one of the feel-good stories in the Women’s Football Alliance season. Undoubtedly, Grisafe’s career deserves a better ending.

A 2014 injury which resulted in tearing her ACL and Meniscus brought a premature end to her season, let alone her career. Despite announcing her retirement, there was always a competitive fire underneath, motivated towards a more fitting conclusion.

With speculation that this may be the last season in Chicago Force history, this gridiron swan song not only brings Grisafe’s glorious career full circle. The comeback symbolizes a tribute to a team that has meant so much to her.

Currently based out of California, Grisafe’s musical ambitions represent another amazing facet to her unique array of talents. In addition to the release of a song on iTunes called “All-Un-American”, she has also served as the host of a weekly concert series in Brentwood known as SunSeshLA.

Even when Grisafe resided in Chicago full-time, balancing football and musical gigs (which also included singing the National Anthem at Wrigley Field), she navigated between both worlds with ease.

Such navigation has taken on a whole new meaning in 2017 as weekly commutes from the Golden State to playing football in Chicago displays more than an admirable flexibility. It encompasses an admirable character, testament to her devotion to the game and teammates alike.

While she will also be using her time in the Windy City constructively for possible speaking opportunities and acoustic shows, there is a collective sense of happiness among fans and teammates alike to see her back in the Force jersey.

The weekly commute, with due deference, definitely places into perspective a key aspect of Grisafe’s amazing return to the gridiron. In any athlete’s career, the passing of time brings with it the need to make adjustments, understanding that such an outlook can bring with it future success.

Prior to such an eventful travel schedule, there was another journey for Grisafe, one that provided a defining moment. Visiting Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s most famous peaks, it was a profoundly interesting excursion that allowed for a chance to bring new perspective to an existing friendship.

Participating at the urging of her best friend, Linsea, they were joined by a small group of amazing people whose efforts went beyond any self-gratification. There was a collaborative sense of teamwork in the name of raising funds for the African Alliance of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).

Along with a few days of heart warming volunteer with children at a local YMCA in Nairobi, Grisafe’s compassion established her as more than a sporting humanitarian. Throughout her musical career, she has graciously donated her time, performing at various causes, becoming a social activist through song. Her song in dedication to The Trevor Project is among such kind gestures.

The experience in Mount Kilimanjaro brought with it many personal lessons learned, it was a source of tremendous perspective. While Grisafe is a world-class athlete, a supernova of magnetism and allure who inspires so many, the essence of teamwork took on new meaning, definitely a building block towards Grisafe’s comeback in 2017.

“My journey up Mt. Kilimanjaro was an enlightening experience. During our final ascent, I endured a bad case of altitude sickness. I had to stop every five steps or so to gather my bearings and was the last one in my party to summit. As an athlete, this hurt my pride. Even now when I say that, it leaves me feeling uneasy.

The three-hour descent to our camp on summit day found me staggering all the way back to camp, falling more than walking and relying on the strength of my best friend to get me through.

The lesson I learned is grit can only get you so far in life. Sometimes, you need to have the grace to let others be your backbone. I think this is the true definition of a team. With grit and grace nothing is insurmountable.”

In many ways, Mount Kilimanjaro helped to set the tone for what is destined to be a memorable season. Two days before the flight, she was in contact with Force team president Linda Bache, verbally committing to competing with the Force this season.

Before the practices with the Force would even take place, the weekly flights would actually start with a journey to Orlando, returning to another key hallmark in Grisafe’s gridiron odyssey. Having starred with the United States national team with golden results at the 2010 and 2013 IFAF Women’s World Championships, the treasured chance for a third gold medal in 2017 extends an incredible legacy that has shepherded the sport.

With the 2017 edition of the IFAF Women’s Worlds taking place on the Pacific coast in Vancouver, British Columbia, it represents the first time that they shall be contested in North America. Undoubtedly, the feeling of familiarity also brings with it a sense of home field advantage for Grisafe and the other gridiron heroes on Team USA.

The path towards being named to Team USA a third time, placing Grisafe in truly rarified air occurred in March 2017 during a very exciting week of football at the Wide World of Sports facility in Orlando, Florida. In a week that began with Team USA tryouts, followed by the energetic Women’s World Football Games, culminating with the NFL’s annual showcase of stars, the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, Grisafe was definitely in her element.

With the residual warmth of the gridiron, Grisafe’s motivation rose to the surface. Although there was an obligatory, yet visceral, reflection on the injury that abruptly shelved a promising 2014, there was a progressive feeling of renewed confidence.

“Being back on the field for Team USA tryouts felt like home in so many ways. I was back on the gridiron, a place where I’ve spent a lot of time since the age of 10. Physically, I was reminded of my time off and felt a huge responsibility to not only rise to the occasion, but improve upon my past performance.

I had to prove myself. I like to pretend I am a rookie at the beginning of every season, because points aren’t awarded for experience. Points are awarded for results. Statistically, I want this to be the best season of my life.”

In discovering that she was named to Team USA, it was the catalyst towards a sensational seven-month journey filled with momentum and motivation. Refusing to rest on her laurels, Grisafe is looking towards this opportunity as one in which the level of loyalty and steadfastness will be greater than ever.

Understanding that the rest of the world is looking at the US as the standard bearer for its sport, it only serves to increase the level of competition. Looking at the privilege of wearing the team’s colors as more than just an honor, but a symbol of determination, Grisafe is ready to set a positive example,

“When I found out I made Team USA for a third time, I was eager to get started. I was honored to be asked to represent my country and excited to play with 44 of the best football players in the country.

At the same time, I know the challenge that awaits us. Putting a cohesive team together in a matter of weeks is not an easy undertaking. What we’ve accomplished in the past at the Women’s World Championships holds no water as we enter this year’s competition.

As one of the quaterback’s selected, I have a responsibility to keep our team focused in performing to the best of our abilities and not get distracted by pomp and circumstance. Making the team is both a reward and duty.”

To a degree, there is also a tinge of sadness. As Grisafe looks to bring the Chicago Force back into the WFA championship conversation, a monumental mentor adds a different dimension to the international aspect of 2017.

Force head coach John Konecki was the architect of the Team USA rosters in both 2010 and 2013, leading them to the pinnacle of their sport. While he will still roam the sidelines at Force games, his international career sees him taking on a new challenge as the head coach of Australia’s national team.

Although Team USA has always been a collection of the finest players from rival teams throughout the WFA, there is definitely a distinct feeling of transition this year. Making their IFAF Worlds debut in 2017, the ambitious Aussies have enjoyed their own competitive league since 2012, definitely prepared.

Confident of a podium finish under Konecki’s tutelage, it heralds a new era in which the competitive gap is potentially being bridged, while helping to shape the future. Regardless of the international ambitions, Konecki and the Force players that shall compete with Team USA, including Grisafe, are true professionals, refusing to let personal pride get in the way of their first WFA national title since 2013.

“Coming together to compete for our country in the world games while playing against each other on separate teams, each pursuing a national championship, always adds an interesting dynamic.

For the first time, we will also compete against our coach. For the past two world championships, the head coach of the Chicago Force, John Konecki, was the head coach for Team USA. This year a new head coach was selected for Team USA and Konecki will coach Team Australia.

Throughout this season, I will work with Coach Konecki to win another National Championship while preparing to compete against him in the world championships.”

Regardless of the final outcome in these seven months, there is no question that Grisafe has the heart of a lion, a champion before the race has even started. The sacrifices made to compete on the gridiron only add a new aspect to her amazing sporting legend, a true Captain America.

Employing both maturity and acumen, Grisafe’s comeback represents an amazing ability to approach the future with confidence while refusing to be haunted by past failures or blinded by past glories. Gaining the opportunity to wear the jersey of the Force and Team USA, this is truly the final ending fitting of an individual who is more than just a world class athlete, but a world class person.

“I feel very fortunate to be a part of the Chicago Force organization. Without large salaries (or any salary for that matter) and medical benefits to draw top athletes to our sport, it can be difficult to field and maintain a team of talented players. Our management, coaching staff, and veteran team members dedicate so much of their time to both recruiting and skill development.

It is because of their dedication so many of us will get to take the field together wearing the red, white and blue. I’m looking forward to sharing the field with both my Force sisters and players from all the other teams across the country. When we leave for training camp in June, we are no longer individuals from select teams. We are one team with one mission.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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#2017-ifaf-womens-worlds, #chicago-force, #sami-grisafe

DC Divas prevail in classic championship contest against Dallas Elite

A powerful running game proved to be the factor in the DC Divas earning their first-ever WFA national championship and second title in franchise history. Facing off against a Dallas Elite squad that boasted the number one ranked defense in the nation, the Divas were slight underdogs, a position they had not been accustomed to during a dominant (and undefeated) season.

In the first quarter, the Divas took full advantage of clock possession, looking to exhaust the Elite defense. With Kenyatta Grigsby scoring the game’s first touchdown midway through the quarter, it placed the Elite in a rare position of being behind in a game.

Compounded by the frustration of being on the sideline for so long, the Elite offense did not appear in sync. An incomplete pass resulted in a fumble recovery by Safi Mojidi, as the Divas enjoyed remarkable field position. Lining up at the Elite seven-yard line, Grigsby scored on a two-yard run, as the Elite now suffered a 13 point deficit.

Heading into the second quarter, the Divas had a fourth-and-eighth situation. One of the few times in the first half that the Divas offense struggled, the ball was turned over on downs after an incomplete pass. Such an advantage worked in the Elite’s favor as Odessa Jenkins ran to daylight on a 20-yard run, providing her club with their first points of the game. With the two-point conversion unsuccessful, the Elite trailed by a 13-6 mark.

After the frustration of their last possession, the Divas offense wasted little time in adding to their lead. Allyson Hamlin, the only quarterback in Washington football history with 200 touchdown passes, connected with Ashley Whisonant on a 45-yard touchdown pass. With Stephanie Nealis converting the point after attempt, the Divas lead was extended to 14 points.

Despite Elite quarterback Jessica Gerhart orchestrating an 83-yard drive on their previous possession, such an occurrence would not repeat itself. Instead, Gerhart was intercepted by first-year player Quiana Ford. With the ball on the Elite 34-yard line, the Divas took full advantage as Okiima Pickett eventually scored on a 12-yard run.
Gerhart would redeem herself on the next possession. A sparkling 63-yard drive picked apart the Divas defense, culminating in a four-yard touchdown run, as the Divas lead was reduced to a 27-12 margin. Before the half would expire, the Divas had one more possession and were looking to demoralize their opponents with another scoring drive.

Employing a little risk, Hamlin attempted to connect with Kentrina Wilson for a touchdown. Under coverage, Wilson was unable to add to the Divas lead, as the Elite defense intercepted the ball, preventing a further deficit. Despite the risk not yielding the desired result, it proved to be only Hamlin’s second interception all season, testament to her laser-like accuracy.

In the third quarter, Gerhart showed tremendous poise as she assembled a 77-yard drive. Throwing for her first touchdown of the pass, the ensuing play was an unsuccessful two-point conversion, resulting in a 27-18 score. Taking into account that the Elite also had a failed two-point attempt in the first half, the final score would show that the PAT attempt on both attempts may have been the better strategy.

The next two offensive possessions of the game resulted in the Divas not only preserving their lead, but adding to it. A field goal by Nealis put the Divas ahead by 12 points. The Elite’s possession would result in frustration as the Divas defense forced a punt, adding to the pressure of mounting a comeback.

With a holding penalty nullifying a touchdown run by Grigsby, which would have also been her third of the contest, the thought of an Elite comeback was highly possible. Once again, Jenkins was the catalyst on offense for the Elite. Gerhart and Jenkins combined for the game’s finest play, a 55-yard touchdown. With their third attempt at a two-point conversion successful, the
Elite reduced the Divas lead to four points, 30-26. Had those other two-point attempts been just PAT’s, the score would have been 30-28, meaning that Dallas would have needed just a field goal to win.

Needing to recover an onside kick, the Elite tried valiantly, displaying tremendous effort. Luckily for the Divas, Whitney Simms managed to gain possession of the ball. Despite preventing the Elite offense from returning on the field, the Divas still needed a first down in order to win as their biggest opponent was the clock.

Three straight handoffs to Grigbsy resulted in nine yards of rushing offense. With six seconds remaining, the Divas needed just one yard to convert on fourth down. With the possibility of Dallas returning a punt for a touchdown, retaining possession and attempting one more rush seemed the more sensible plan. Although there was no denying that Gerhart would throw a hail mary had the Elite recovered on downs, Hamlin’s gutsy performance prevented such a scenario.

Despite being stonewalled by the Elite defense, Hamlin was still on her feet. As valuable seconds were still ticking away on the clock, she opted to leap forward again and try to surpass the line of scrimmage. Managing to grab that very valuable first down, the championship was now out of reach for the Elite, as the Divas were able to run out the clock.

Defensively, All-American Tia Watkins paced all Divas with 11.5 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Ranking second was Safi Mojidi, registering 6.5 tackles, along with a fumble recovery. Quiana Ford returned an interception for 23 yards, while Cherre Marshall had the Divas’ only forced fumble of the contest. At halftime, Watkins was recognized as the National Conference Defensive Player of the Year, while head coach Alison Fischer had the honor of WFA Coach of the Year bestowed upon her.

Averaging 5.2 yards per carry, the Divas utilized a running game in which 46 rushing attempts shredded the Elite defense for a total of 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns. WFA All-America selection Kenyatta Grigsby led the way for the Divas with an impressive 148 yards performance, racking up a pair of touchdowns.

Okiima Pickett would log the other rushing touchdown for the Divas, while accumulating 40 rushing yards, respectively. Longtime Divas player, Ashley Whisonant paced all Divas with 98 yards through the air, catching Allyson Hamlin’s only touchdown pass. Also competing on defense and special teams, Whisonant was recognized as the game’s Most Valuable Player.

References: Neal Rozendaal

#allyson-hamlin, #ashley-whisonant, #dallas-elite, #dc-divas, #odessa-jenkins

DC Divas back in national championship picture

Considering that the 2015 campaign marks the DC Divas 15th Anniversary season, it seems highly fitting that one of the signature franchise in American female football has earned the opportunity to compete in the WFA National Championship Game.

After an undefeated regular season filled with memorable milestones, including quarterback Allyson Hamlin’s 200th career touchdown pass, and a season sweep of the powerhouse Boston Renegades, the Divas marched towards a division crown while gaining home field advantage.

Capitalizing on it, the Divas trounced the Miami Fury by a 48-12 tally in the opening round. Afterwards, the Atlanta Phoenix were defeated 40-6, marking the first time in five years that the Divas qualified for the conference championship game.
The road to the WFA National Championship Game consisted of a very challenging opponent, making victory very hard earned.

Having won the 2013 WFA National Championship, the Chicago Force were looking to claim a second title in 2015. Taking into account that All-World quarterback Sami Grisafe had retired in the aftermath of the 2014 campaign, the Force wanted to prove that they were capable of succeeding despite the loss of a living legend.

Prevailing by a 43-24 tally, the Divas compete for a national championship for the first time since 2006. Outscoring their postseason opponents by a cumulative score of 171-42, the Divas have been nothing short of dominant. Competing against them shall be the Dallas Elite, who defeated the San Diego Surge (2012 WFA national champs) by a 56-28 final to capture the American Conference crown.

Back in 2006, the Divas assembled an undefeated season, and a third consecutive Conference championship game appearance, a 32-7 win against the Columbus Comets. Defeating the Oklahoma City Lightning for the NWFA national title, running back Rachelle Pecovsky received a write-up in Sports Illustrated.

For longtime Divas veterans such as Missy Bedwell, Donna Wilkinson and Trigger McNair, the chance to play for a national championship represents the first opportunity in almost a decade to compete for such a prestigious prize. It was only fitting that McNair was one of 10 Divas named to the WFA All-America team. Named to the Second Team, this was her 17th season with the Divas, culminating as the team leader in tackles.

With nine other Divas having the honor of WFA All-American bestowed upon them, there is a strong feeling of momentum heading into the championship game. The nine D.C. Divas recognized as 2015 WFA first-team All-Americans were Callie Brownson, DeVon Goldsmith, Kenyetta Grigsby, Allyson Hamlin, D’Ajah Scott, Tia Watkins, Ashley Whisonant, Kentrina Wilson and Becky Worsham.

#dc-divas

Heroes of the WFA earn the football card treatment

Among the memorable highlights of the 2015 WFA football season, Nebraska-based Doji Malo Trading Cards is most worthy of mention. Issuing a series of trading cards featuring players from numerous WFA franchises, it added a major league feeling to an exciting 2015. Although it would not have been feasible to feature a card set with every single WFA player, there was a mutual feeling of victory among all the players in the aftermath of the set’s release.

Of note, the players included in the 18-card base set were the likes of Jeannette Gray, a gold medalist at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds and 2014 WFA National Champion with the Chicago Force, along with Kansas City’s Sowers sisters, Liz and Katie, who is featured on card number 1. With only 500 sets in existence, these cards are destined to become collector’s items.

In 2015, DC Divas quarterback Allyson Hamlin became the first quarterback in Washington football history (male and female) to reach 200 career touchdown passes. With her inclusion in this year’s set, it adds a nice serendipitous touch. Other teams that saw players featured in Doji Malo’s inaugural set included Everett Reign, Miami Fury, Orlando Anarchy, Portland Fighting Fillies and the Seattle Majestics.

One of the most unique aspects of the set is the fact that it provides Jeannette Gray with the second trading card of her career. A two-sport star who once played for Chicago in the now-defunct American Basketball League, she was featured in a set of ABL trading cards issued by SkyBox. The chance to grace Doji Malo’s WFA set, including some autographed issues, truly brings her athletic career full circle.

Adding to the collectability of these remarkable issues is the fact that there are also autographed versions. Considering that all trading card companies that release sports cards feature autographs (and cards with game jersey swatches), it was only natural that Doji Malo would add to the excitement of its product. In addition, a 2016 release is already being planned.

Although WFA teams are established all over the United States, some franchises will only play each other once in a decade, making it difficult for fans to obtain autographs of their favorite players. Thanks to Doji Malo, the autographed cards make that struggle much more convenient, dedicating themselves to creating a positive fan experience. For set collectors, the full list of autographed cards are as follows:

Limited to 100:
Allyson Hamlin, DC Divas
Jeanette Gray, Chicago Force
Katie Sowers, Kansas City Titans
Liz Sowers, Kansas City Titans
Jennifer Plummer, West Michigan Mayhem

Limited to 60:
Michele Walsh, Everett Reign
LeAnn Layman, Everett Reign
Amelia Kahr, Everett Reign
Brittany Burns, Everett Reign
Brooklyn Holton, Everett Reign

Limited to 60 “Three on One” Card:
Jackie McCall, Kalena Firstrider, Kase Tukutau, Seattle Majestics

For additional information, the company can be reached at cards@dojimalo.com

#allyson-hamlin, #jeanette-gray

WFA gridiron legend Sami Grisafe launches song to honor marriage equality

Known as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the WFA, All-World quarterback Sami Grisafe is more than just an elite athlete. Having led the Chicago Force to the 2013 WFA National Championship, she retired after the 2014 WFA All-America Game (hosted in her current residence of Chicago) in order to engage in her music career on a full-time basis.

Akin to Jim Brown, who retired after his glorious NFL career to pursue an acting career, Grisafe is looking to bring the same empowering message that she brought to the gridiron to her musical endeavors. Showing great courage in expressing her same-sex preference, it is a message that Grisafe has also employed in some of her songs.

Of note, this is not the first time that Grisafe has turned to music to show support. Another song that provided comfort and hope was the song “Trevor”, named in honor of The Trevor Project. Her performance of the Star Spangled Banner prior to the gold medal game of the 2013 IFAF Women’s World Championships captivated a nation of female football fans.

In the aftermath of the United States government making same-sex marriage legal throughout the country, it was a point of pride for Grisafe, representing more than just a personal victory, but a moral victory. Through her musical talents, she shared her support of this historic moment in America with a remarkable song.

Titled “Brand New Fairy Tale”, the song also features the efforts of Eric Himan, plus a new music video. With the support of Vicious Muse, LLC, Glam Tie Media, Chicago Recording Company, Ink Factory Studio, the Windy City Times and AfterEllen.com (where the video can be seen), it serves as her opus, a creative, emotional and powerful way to support marriage equality.

#sami-grisafe

Allyson Hamlin becomes first quarterback in Washington football history to reach 200 TD passes

As the DC Divas celebrate their 15th Anniversary season, another remarkable milestone has made this a season to remember. Competing in her 13th season with the club, quarterback Allyson Hamlin threw for the 200th touchdown pass in her career. Adding to the relevance of this achievement is the fact that no other quarterback in the history of Washington football has reached the magical number. The closest is Redskins Hall of Fame quarterback Sammy Baugh with 187.

Going by the nickname of Smooth, the 38-year old signal caller already holds over 75 wins, a franchise record for most wins by a quarterback. Taking into account that her favorite quarterback is former Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre, Hamlin is similar in the fact that she also brings remarkable durability, consistent production and a love of the game to the gridiron.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Hamlin is also a homicide detective for Prince George’s County. Having grown up idolizing the likes of Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr, Hamlin can also stake her own claim as a sporting hero in the Capital. Testament to her growing popularity is the fact that she was a subject in the May 2015 edition of the Washingtonian magazine.

She was among six individuals that were included in the Guest List feature. Part of a monthly roundup in the Capital Comment section, she was among a group of six individuals in the feature which the magazine’s editors would love to have over for food, drinks and conversation.

In a June 13 triumph, one that saw the Divas prevail by a 56-28 margin against the Boston Renegades, Hamlin provided a sparkling performance, including completed five touchdown passes. Among Hamlin’s five touchdown passes in the contest, a 36-yard touchdown pass to Ashley Whisonant (which wrapped up a 52-yard drive), proved to be the 200th of her Divas career.

Among the most prolific quarterback/wide receiver combos in WFA history, it was only fitting that Whisonant caught Hamlin’s landmark touchdown pass. As a side note, Whisonant caught a 79-yard touchdown pass from Hamlin earler in the game, which provided the Divas with a 14-0 advantage.

For a team on a remarkable run of momentum in its 15th Anniversary season, Hamlin’s milestone also ensures that the Divas enjoy home field advantage during the National Conference playoffs. In addition, the Divas completed their season with an 8-0 mark, its first undefeated season since the 2009 campaign.

Regardless of the outcome in the postseason, there is no question that the magic created this season reflect Hamlin’s legacy with the Divas; both are destined to shine over time.

References: Neal Rozendaal

#allyson-hamlin, #ashley-whisonant, #dc-divas

Signal caller Beth Andrasik leads high-octane offense for the Cleveland Fusion

Consistently one of the top teams in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), the 2015 edition of the Cleveland Fusion have experienced an offensive renaissance. Heading into her fourth season as the starting quarterback for the club, Beth Andrasik has established herself as a potential All-America selection.

A two-sport star at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), where she excelled in basketball and softball, Andrasik is also highly educated, earning a BSc in mechanical and aerospace engineering in 2011. Currently employed in Industrial Engineering, she also balances her career obligations with time spent as a coach for the CWRU women’s softball team .

Of note, Andrasik is not the only CWRU alum on the Fusion’s roster. Head coach Erik Keister was a linebacker for the CWRU Spartans, and served in a coaching capacity from 2002-2003, respectively. Wide receivers Christy Conlin and Katie Green graduated in 2009 and 2011. As a side note, Conlin had aspirations to play rugby for the Cleveland Iron Maidens. Offensive lineman Marie Vibbert is employed at CWRU.

Having joined the Fusion in April 2012, Andrasik is not the only CWRU alum on the Fusion’s roster. Head coach Erik Keister was a linebacker for the CWRU Spartans, and served in a coaching capacity from 2002-2003, respectively.

Through the first six weeks of the season, Andrasik (who is sponsored by Tupperware) contributed to a Fusion squad that enjoyed a 5-1 start, while ranking fifth nationally. In addition, she also threw for 14 touchdown passes, compared to just a pair of interceptions. For the last three seasons, she has shown statistical improvement. In 2013, she was intercepted 13 times, despite 19 touchdown passes. Last season, she managed to reduce her interception totals to seven, while increasing her touchdown passes to 20. A key ingredient in her success involves third-year Fusion wideout Maria Jackson.

After Week 6, Jackson (sponsored by First Service Commercial Loans) was leading the WFA with 14 touchdown receptions, already surpassing her previous career high. As a side note, it marks the third straight season that she enjoys double digits in receiving touchdowns. Kansas City’s Liz Sowers is the only receiver this season to have more receptions and receiving yardage than Jackson, maintaining her status as one of the league’s elite receivers.

Such a strong passing game has benefitted nicely from the emergence of an impressive running game, anchored by first-year player Mercedes Ephraim. Like Andrasik and Jackson, Ephraim established herself as one of the league’s finest at her position. Leading the WFA in rushing after six weeks, she is only 79 yards away from 1,000 on the season. Complemented by a solid defensive unit that ranks second in the nation, Andrasik’s presence ensures that a deep playoff run for the Fusion is very possible.

#beth-andrasik, #cleveland-fusion, #maria-jackson, #mercedes-ephraim