Destiny Armendariz capturing hearts and minds of Texas football fans

Considering that football is a significant part of the sporting and social fabric of Texas, a new revolution is taking place on the gridiron. Girls are starting to embrace the game and make their own statement that they deserve an opportunity to play. As the barriers begin to crumble and break, Destiny Armendariz has generated a significant amount of media attention throughout the state.

In her second season as a middle linebacker and second string fullback for Creekwood Middle School B Team, she is the only girl on the roster. Gaining praise from her head coach Paul Hinson, she has quickly evolved as a leader on the field. Her coach has even told others on the team that they need to play more like her, testament to her dedication. Of note, Armendariz is the second eighth-grade girl playing football in the Humble Independent School District. Amya Anglin competes at the safety position for Woodcreek Middle School.

A significant source of support in her football ambitions come from her family. Theresa, her mother, is jubilant at her daughter’s success, who is only the second girl to play football for Creekwood Middle School. Drawing inspiration from her grandfather, she also looks up to her older brother, Emil Armendariz, Jr., a member of the football team at Kingwood High School.

With ambitions to continue gracing the gridiron at the high school level, Armendariz aspires to become the first female to compete at the linebacker position in college football. Taking into account her role model is Dr. Jen Welter, there is no question that such a dream could one day become reality.
Having played men’s football with the Texas Revolution, Welter has also played with the WFA’s Dallas Diamonds and the IWFL’s Houston Dynamo. Also a two-time IFAF Women’s World champion with Team USA, Welter is helping inspire a new generation of girls to play football. Among this new generation, Armendariz is certainly among them.

Of note, Armendariz had the chance to see Welter play with the Revolution, during their final regular season game. Held in Dallas, her entire family drove up from Houston to see the match. The highlight for Armendariz was the chance to meet Welter afterwards. The most heartwarming aspect of the experience was an e-mail that she sent to Welter, reciprocating the inspiration that Welter provided.

Welter was proud upon receiving the e-mail that she wrote about meeting Armendariz in her blog for USA Football. While it was a touch of class on the part of Welter, it certainly set a positive example about what it means to appreciate your fans. Should Armendariz follow in Welter’s footsteps and continue to break barriers, she will likely have her own fans sharing their stories with her, making Welter an amazing individual to emulate.

#destiny-armendariz, #jen-welter

Sabrina Tucci helps to shatter barriers with Pennington football

For the first in the 135 year history of Mercer County, New Jersey’s Pennington School football, Sabrina Tucci shatters barriers by suiting up for the boys football team. Having played soccer since four years old, she was a natural to extend her game to the gridiron as a placekicker and punter.

Taking into account that the team was looking for a kicker in the off-season, she communicated with Pennington head coach Jerry Eure. In agreeing to let her participate with the team, he has advised that she will not be part of any contact drills.

Although Tucci would relish the opportunity to participate in a tackle after kickoff, she is not the first female kicker in the history of Mercer County football. In 2004, Notre Dame high school student Bridget Catanese became the first to kick a field goal, successfully converting on a 42-yard attempt.

While the team was a little skeptical about a girl playing for their team, she has quickly made believers. Senior quarterback Greg Oldsey was one of the first to stick up for her, stating that the game is one of specialists, and Tucci plays at a specialists’ position. Of note, senior player Marcellus Morris compares Tucci to Mo’ne Davis, a female pitcher whose presence at the Little League World Series of Baseball made national news.

As a side note, Tucci is not the only notable female athlete to have attended Pennington. Having allowed girls to attend the school since 1972, one of the most successful female sporting alumnae includes Amber Brooks. Currently, she competes in the National Women’s Soccer League with the Portland Thorns.

Entering her junior year, Tucci measures in at 5-foot-6 and 125 pounds. Having made field goals from 20 yards away in practice, she has successfully made 10-yard kicks, the traditional distance for PAT attempts. In addition, she is an athletic humanitarian, having spent over 20 days of her summer in Thailand and Australia with a community service organization called Rustic Pathways.

While Tucci has yet to see play during the 2014 regular season, she does not have a uniform number assigned to her either, her presence is one that is of great encouragement for other female students at Pennington. While the school has a 2-2 record and a state rank of 68, it would be worthwhile for morale and her development as a player to see her compete in at least one game this season.

Tackle the World captures the passion of female football on global scale

As a way of commemorating the one-year anniversary of the 2013 IFAF Women’s World Football Championships in Vantaa, Finland, an all-new expanded documentary titled Tackle the World…Tough Game – Tougher Women does more than just preserve a landmark moment in the game’s growing history. It perfectly captures the passion and emotions of self-confident female athletes, engaging in a remarkable social innovation that serves to propel the game towards a bold future.

Originally, the documentary ran in September 2013 at a movie theatre for the team. This was followed by a December broadcast on a local CBS television station. Currently, the expanded version only opens the window wider into a world of empowerment, sportsmanship and dedication where homage is paid to a group of pioneering female football players.

GrisafeTackletheWorld

Considering that the game continues to grow, the preservation of its events on film continues to be one of its most important elements. Whether it is photography or videography, the image immortalizes, resulting in a lasting visual appreciation of the game. As this superlative short film encourages the development of similar projects, it also preserves the spirit of players from the world over. Proudly representing their homelands and their athletic ambitions, viewers cannot help but feel a sense of pride from their accomplishments.

In the same spirit as world-renowned NFL Films, Tackle the World conveys the emotions of the players perfectly. Filmed by Rich Daniel, who also contributes to the female game as a member of the DC Divas front office, he uses the football field and the skies of Vantaa, Finland as his canvas. Chronicling of a world championship event, Daniel’s view behind the lens contributes to a visual masterpiece, praising the efforts of a group of women continuing to break barriers.

From the pre-game talk to the action on the field, the jubilation of triumph and the desolation of loss, no detail are overlooked as raw emotion fills the screen. The obligatory locker room speech only adds to the intensity of the documentary, which Rick Snider of the Washington Post perfectly encapsulates by stating that it is taken every bit as seriously as the NFL.

One of the most intriguing bits of footage comes when a player from the Canadian contingent loses her helmet after being tackled to the ground. For the astute football fan, it brings back memories of Hall of Fame men’s quarterback Steve Young, scrambling for extra yardage, looking fearless as his helmet soars through the crisp, autumn air after a bruising tackle.

In many ways, 2013 represented the game’s turning point. From its inclusion as an Olympic sport, to members of the Canadian team becoming football coaches, to the emergence of Dr. Jen Welter as a pop culture figure, these remarkable results in the aftermath of Vantaa are significant victories.

Such gridiron growth is akin to the rebirth of women’s hockey in the early 1990s, in which the documentary The Game of Her Life helped make the game part of the sporting conversation. Once hardcore fans stopped lamenting that it was women underneath the hockey helmets, choosing to absorb and appreciate the action on ice instead, suddenly, the quality of play was admired just as much as the male game. One cannot help but feel that the appreciation for female football will run parallel.

Action aside, the true substance of the documentary is the way it helps to celebrate the game. With Vantaa as the backdrop, the spirit of sportsmanship and friendship resulted in a sterling display of sporting solidarity and support. Making a solid case that the best is yet to come, it may serve as the greatest victory from Tackle the World.

#2013-ifaf-womens-world-football-championships, #tackle-the-world

Melissa Margulies bravely leads the charge to stand up for players rights

If there truly comes a time in every life where one must stand up and be counted, Melissa Margulies has engaged in such. Employing bravura, complemented by a strong sense of courage, she is setting a precedent by engaging in legal action against her former (and infamous) league of play.

After making countless physical and personal sacrifices in order to provide Los Angeles with three indoor female football championships, the reality of Margulies’ efforts reached a crushing reality in 2013. Suffering a knee injury which nearly ended her career, she made a remarkable recovery. Establishing herself as one of the toughest and admirable women in football, this former USC track star and Pac-10 All-Academic displayed a peerless perseverance in her return to the gridiron.

Sadly, the hard work to recover was met without full financial assistance. As one of the league’s elite players, she was one of the more visible players whose sweat and sacrifice built said league. At one time, she was described by the league as a legend in the making. Despite such accolades, the penny pinching ways superseded any loyalties.

It was a dehumanizing feeling that showed a serious lack of business acumen on the part of the league. Taking into account that this was not her first injury suffered in league play, a broken cheek and orbital bone are other casualties from her tenure with the league. Sadly, it was another situation where a player was made to feel disposable despite the fact that their efforts helped line the league’s coffers.

Aggravating the situation was the fact that she was one of many players who endured intimidation. Hard work may have helped an athlete earn a roster spot, but keeping that spot was another story. From being forced into attending promotional events, threatened with a release or fine for lateness at a practice to the selling of tickets, the reality was that such working conditions amounted to nothing more than an athletic dictatorship.

Having filed a class action lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior County, Marguiles has sent a very serious message that the league’s arrogance shall be its downfall. Channeling the courage of athletes such as Curt Flood, the first to challenge baseball’s reserve clause, Spencer Haywood, who believed a player did not have to finish college in order to play pro basketball and Carl Brewer, the first athlete to expose former hockey czar Alan Eagleson for misappropriation of union funds, Margulies is making a statement that fairness, equity and dignity are the cornerstones for a successful organization.

Arguing over the classification of players as independent contractors, the heart of the 20-page complaint revolves around a lack of compensation. In theory, wages were supposed to be associated to ticket revenues and performances. In addition, the league also had players sign away other rights such as publicity and promotional.

The complaint also emphasizes that the designation of an athlete as an independent contractor was improper due to players lacking requisite control and discretion over their job responsibilities and duties. Represented by Michael Morrison with Alexander Krakow and Glick of Santa Monica, she is looking to obtain general and compensatory damages, restitution, waiting time penalties, interest and costs,

Extending the hand of collaboration and empathy for any other players that felt poorly treated during the time stated in the lawsuit (2010-13), dating back four years from the time a judgment is reached in the case, Margulies is encouraging them to participate in the lawsuit. Of note, Robin Johnson, a former quarterback with the Las Vegas Sin was one of the first to join the cause.

Despite the sport’s potential for growth, any hope of these remarkable women being treated more humanely did not come to fruition. During the offseason in 2013, any effort to question how things were being run, with the hope of simply brining improvement resulted in being excommunicated from the league. Such mistreatment can only create chaos, leading towards a downward spiral.

From out-of-pocket expenses, bullying over fines, nightmarish road trips and no reimbursement for expenses lost through personal work, one could not help but get the feeling that the league had the ambience of a sweatshop, rather than an arena where women could be empowered and heroic. This disposable treatment of players has resulted in too many bridges being burned for a group of dedicated yet disillusioned women. While this lawsuit may result in more bridges being burned, potentially ending more careers, it is a fire that a group of brave yet exploited players will gladly enjoy.

Should more players get on board, a league which was once seen as an athletic novelty, combining beauty, sports and entertainment in an exciting package that buzzed throughout popular culture will be revealed as nothing more than a fallen house of cards.

For Margulies, her decision to fight back is one that stands as a key moment for women’s sport in this decade. While sporting equality is an ongoing struggle that women are working tirelessly to overcome, the feelings of degradation and bullying that were endured in this league were completely unnecessary. For all her accomplishments as a champion football player, this may prove to be her greatest triumph yet.

#melissa-margulies

Website on problems of indoor female football fights the good fight in struggle for dignity

What is developing into one of the most tragic and saddest sports stories of the 2010s is the unfair treatment concerning the women that are competing in a particular indoor football league. Over the last year, many players have had the courage to stand up by going to the media or just outright walking away from the league of lies.

Helping their cause and honoring their struggle is a website that recently launched, helping to not only expose existing problems but hopefully prevent others. The website shares dozens of stories (more on that later) about the undignified treatment of a group of players who were exploited and made to feel as if the league was doing them a favor in doing so.

Spearheaded by an admirable individual who had a front-row seat to this debacle is fighting back. Having been involved with the league as a beat writer and later in an editorial capacity, the unforeseen truth eventually surfaced about the league and it was an ugly truth. After being involved with minor league baseball and coverage of pro football training camps, this individual knew how things were properly administered in other sports and waged a one-man battle that is rightfully growing in support.

Believing that every dog gets its day, the site is devoted to dignity and fair play, while ensuring a moral victory for the players whose countless sacrifices do not always gain the recognition it deserves. Said site features four categories. One is a biography on the creator of the site and their noble motivation to engage in such a cause. The second is a sample letter which is sent to various arenas which may be seen as prospective sites for league play, sharing the horror stories of how the league mistreats its people.

While the fourth link shares the chance for athletes to anonymously share their feelings over league affairs, the third link is truly the heartbeat of the site. With links to over two dozen stories, ranging from safety issues in Toronto, to allegations of game fixing in Florida, it is nothing short of tragic to see that such activity could take place in the last decade.

To someone with no involvement in sport, an outsider, the opportunity to study these stories would almost appear to be situations that occurred from a generation or two ago. How could a league from this era, especially one when so many women have accomplished major breakthroughs in equality, engage in such activity?

In so many of these cases, there tends to be one individual among the league’s leadership emerging as the common factor. Unfortunately, such controversy only serves to tarnish one’s image, an image that may hinder the league’s future.

Taking into account that a few years ago, games from this league were actually broadcast on cable television, the potential to be as popular as mixed martial arts or wrestling, other sports that blended entertainment and popular culture truly seemed possible. Instead, ego and exploitation followed with bridges burnt throughout North America.

Unfortunately, one of the league’s top leaders carried themselves with the arrogance and swagger of infamous sports individuals such as Vince McMahon (wrestling), the late Harold Ballard (hockey) and the late George Steinbrenner (baseball). While the aforementioned were known for their tantrums, greed, verbal assaults and getting their own way, there was a key difference – their employees were compensated.

In the case of Ballard and Steinbrenner, their respective sporting enterprises were monopolies with a built-in fan base that transcended generations. Iroincally, their teams would experience success when both would back off and let the people they hired do their jobs. Although McMahon built his empire in a remarkably quick time span, he never forgot to put money back into his product, ensuring the quality was always better and paying top dollar for the best talent available.

The indoor football league was built on a shoestring budget with the belief that the “sex sells” mentality would work anywhere while treating the players as if they were disposable. Considering many of the players were college educated, having participated in collegiate varsity sports, while engaging in careers such as medicine, law and even military personnel, these athletes were role models,

In an era where there are so many entertainment options and the online world continues to revolutionize society, it is not uncommon to see the most promising business enterprises fail. Even a female sporting enterprise such as the Naked Women’s Wrestling League (Carmen Electra was actually the host of this product) failed to build a fan base despite the sex sells approach.

Sadly, promises of celebrity and superstardom were never met in the indoor league. Athletes were sucked into a world filled with nothing but unfulfilled dreams where favoritism and sex appeal won out over merit. Adding to such frustrations was the fact that compensation and health insurance was nothing more than a fallacy in this world. With speculated revenues of over $1,000,000 in one year, the fact that there was no salary or effort to improve the playing surface (which has duct tape on various parts) is a perfect example of greed, where one refuses to share the wealth with the people whose blood and sweat helped create said wealth. Fairness works.

Poor treatment of injured player a serious red flag for failing indoor league

The crumbling state of indoor women’s football in the United States is emerging into one of the most tragic sporting stories of the decade. Despite women’s football experiencing unprecedented growth, it is doing so in other leagues. Instead, this indoor league has engaged in a downward spiral and the casualties are the dedicated players and coaches whose efforts are beyond the worth of those in leadership.

Taking into account that there is no compensation or health insurance for any who dedicate their time, it is a dehumanizing situation built solely on exploitation. If three words can define the current state of affairs, it would be Abuse against Women. Sadly, a recent injury to a veteran player and the treatment afterwards is nothing short of disillusioning, proving that the league must change its ways if it ever hopes to stage another season.

A reliable source has disclosed that a road trip to Las Vegas resulted in a player suffering an injury in which the emotional wounds may not heal so quickly. Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that what happened before the game was nothing short of adding the insult to the injury.

In an effort to control costs, the league does not support the notion of direct flights for road games. As the journey to Las Vegas consisted of a series of connecting flights, frustrations mounted when no transportation was available to get to the hotel.

Despite promises that transport would be made available, along with a credit card allocated for the coach to rent an automobile, two hours passed with no transport and a declined credit card. The result was taxis being summoned in order to get the team to the Hooters Hotel, a bitter irony.

Prior to the game, a member of the league’s hierarchy degraded the team by calling them a joke of a team and declaring how they an embarrassment. The reality is that it is clearly the other way around as this member is nothing short of a misogynist and narcissist. Sadly, these comments would have an ominous tone on the evening to come.

Straps on the helmet must be tied by players in an improper position so that it is easier to remove in order to appease the league’s demands of entertainment and photography requirements. Despite complaints from this player over safety concerns (as she has already suffered a broken nose once before), they had fallen on deaf ears.

Such insensitivity towards player safety truly reared its ugly head in the second quarter. Hit twice, it was the second hit that would push her head back so that a helmet can sneak in past her faceguard and directly hit her nose. Instantly swelling up and bleeding, she removes herself from the field of play, only to have a trainer take 10 minutes to approach her. Sadly, this does not provide relief as the trainer only provides her with ice.

While the concussion tests at halftime should provide relief, it only creates more tension. How could this remarkable athlete not feel significant strain as the young lady who performs the verbal concussion test has to look off of a card? Throughout this whole debacle, her nose has bled for over one hour with no relief.

Despite her best efforts to go one room over to address her team on the progress of her health, she has to argue with a league official. Meanwhile, the blood is still flowing endlessly from her nose and seeping into her throat. With her passages literally drowning in blood, she coughs a stream of blood, sapping her strength and removing her ability to stand.

Tragically, this is the least of the players’ worries. After two hours of constant bleeding, she collapses in the tunnel. Once again, the suggested remedy is ice and something to place up her nose. The only way that she can receive any serious medical treatment is at the urging of her coach. Even that becomes a struggle as the coach has to try and explain to an absolutely incompetent (or perhaps indifferent) group of health care workers that she must be taken to a hospital.

Despite being eventually taken to a hospital, it is one that does not accept her personal insurance. In true inhumane fashion, the league opted to take her to a facility that is closest to the airport because the league wants its player to catch the 1:00 am flight. Any organization that is counting its pennies that much has no right to be in a business that is endangering the lives of its performers.

The only thing more arrogant than the cheapness is the lack of dignity in ensuring this athlete is being cared for. Another representative of the league was so stubborn about having a group of people join her at her side for emotional and moral support. Instead, it was an unnecessary argument and struggles to authorize only one teammate from being at her bedside in such a dire time.

Such insensitivity starts on the top. The individual who was berating the team earlier in the night is on the phone with the teammate at the player’s beside, who is suffering from severe worry in the hospital. Instead of providing comforting words, this individual displays complete and utter ignorance by stating that the injured player is a big girl and will be fine.

Obviously, this individual has little consideration for the health and well-being of players who compete for no compensation or no health care. Under such emergency circumstances, the league should be willing to pay for such medical emergencies.

Instead, the player is rushed to x-rays and told that she must make her 1 am flight since the league refused to pay for a different one. Concerning the teammate who was at her bedside, she was told that she could not stay with her after 1 am (should the injured player opt to stay).

Despite the medical recommendation that she should not go on a flight in her state of severe pain and suffering, she was on the plane at 12:50 am. This was the one instance that made the league happy. Of course, the fact that she did not have any pain pills until she returned home was of no concern to them.

The real pain was the cost of the entire event; an ambulance bill of $1,034, compounded by a fee of $134 for x-rays, and a hospital cost of $2,105, for a grand total of $3,273. Despite the fact that this player has sacrificed two years of her life, missing weekends, holidays, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries, her reward is to pay such a monumental bill for an unappreciative individual who sees the players in the league as disposable.

Although the players are worthy of respect and their accomplishments deserve to be celebrated, their careers would be better if their gridiron careers continued elsewhere. Their lives have been shattered by suffering emotional, financial, mental and physical abuse at the hands of a person whose actions are nothing short of criminal.

Had such an incident taken place in little league baseball or in a high school sport, not only would the media have crucified the individual that carried out the mistreatment, but the lawsuits and possible criminal prosecution would certainly have followed.

This disgusting individual was nothing short of lucky that a death did not happen during this game as this brave and remarkable woman certainly risked her life. Instead, the focus is on the most attractive players and constantly selling sex. Sadly, these players are expected to be more than just sex symbols, they are pushed to be salespeople, marketing a league built on lies.

In the aftermath of this debacle, the player, who is also one of the veterans of her team made the visceral decision, was made to depart from the team. Considering that her safety and her life were both in serious jeopardy, there was no alternative. In a statement to her teammates, it was not the league’s leadership that she felt an obligation to. Her teammates were the group that she felt sad for, testament to the camaraderie and the bond that exists between the two.

While she hopes to continue playing football, gladly, it shall not be with this discredited indoor league. Hopefully, the offseason can result in her teammates organizing a campaign fundraiser to help with the hospital bills. It would be the type of publicity that may help shed light on the disgusting treatment these remarkable women have to endure.

For the players, aspects of the appalling treatment are such that only other players can relate to. In reality, the treatment of this player is but a small sampling of the barbaric treatment that these athletes endure when suffering injury. Many of these women are looking for an opportunity to extend athletic careers past college or experience the joy of camaraderie, but are drawn into a world with promises of superstardom. Instead it is one led by a con man where lies and broken promises result in players being disposable.

Not only does this atrocious treatment lack dignity, but it is nothing short of criminal. Surely, there must be some sort of labor law that can prevent such inhumane treatment from occurring ever again. Although players sign a contract in order to play with the league, the fact that they are not compensated should entitle them to some basic human rights.

As unsold tickets start to grow and franchises slowly fold, it has certainly set the wheels in motion for a downward spiral. Sadly, it is the players who are the victims again. While the league plans international expansion, a sort of delusional manifest destiny in which it believes it can truly compete with the likes of the juggernauts in men’s sports, those can only help that some sort of karmic payback will one day rear its ugly head on the individual responsible for this disaster.

Seattle Mist holds potential to set higher standards for quality indoor female football

Although the last few months have been difficult for indoor female football, the Seattle Mist continue to serve as a shining beacon. Despite the controversy surrounding Nikki Johnson no longer being a member of the Las Vegas Sin and the collapse of the ill-fated Women’s Indoor Football League, the Mist have solidified Seattle’s standing as one of the great football cities in America.

Similar to the NFL’s Seahawks, the Mist have a remarkable loyal fan base and acknowledge it every chance they have. The last year has brought several milestones for the proud franchise. From an undefeated regular season in 2013 to the powerful performance of Stevi Schnoor in their second consecutive Pacific Cup victory, the future holds great promise for even better performances.

Image obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/SeattleMist

Image obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/SeattleMist

Currently, the league they belong to is enduring a degree of turbulence. From issues including compensation, turnover and two franchises not competing this season, the Mist remain a figure of stability amidst difficult times. Should the league fold or cease operations in 2015, it may be worthwhile for the Mist to consider a change. As one of the most popular female football franchises (indoor or outdoor) in the United States, the Mist could help set a new standard, while helping the sport maintain its growth.

The concept of the Mist helping to form a new player-owned league would not only bring innovation to the sport, but help the franchise and the players have better control of the game. Of note, the National Lacrosse League is a player-owned enterprise and has existed since the 1990s.

With the popularity of indoor female football in many areas of the Pacific and Southwest United States (along with several areas in Western Canada), a player-run league could definitely have legs. Each team could have a player representative to assist with administrative issues such as by-laws, schedules, financial management and obtaining health insurance.

In addition, such a league could borrow from other female football leagues in having rotation at the executive levels. The Maritime Women’s Football League in Atlantic Canada holds annual elections for its executive positions. Of note, those positions are held by the players themselves.

Although the focus for the Mist is to emulate the Seahawks and field a team that can win its respective league championship, a player-owned league is merely food for thought. Such a strong organization deserves to continue to thrive in another environment, should the current one no longer be sustainable. Its loyal fan base would certainly appreciate it.

#seattle-mist