Celebrating 150 of Canada’s female football heroes (21-30)

21: Kait DiNunzio

22: Jenny Miller, QB, Moncton

23: Beth Thomson, Team Canada 2013 and 2017, Saskatoon

24: Virginie Roberge Team Canada 2013 and 2017

25: Carly Dyck, Team Canada 2017

26: Claire Dore, Team Canada 2013 and 2017

27: Alia Palmer, Team Canada 2010

28: Cheryl O’Leary, Coach and Administrator, MWFL, Team Atlantic

Competing with the Capital Area Lady Gladiators, enjoying the experience of hoisting the Judy Upward Trophy, it only represents part of the narrative in Cheryl O’Leary’s brilliant football career. Having also given her time in an executive capacity with the MWFL, her credentials made her a key addition to the Central Canadian Women’s Football League, when she relocated to the Greater Toronto Area for professional reasons. Although the CCWFL never played a game, O’Leary would have been an ideal ambassador for the league and the brand.

Also relevant is O’Leary’s experience as a coach. Serving in a coaching capacity with Team Atlantic at the inaugural Canadian women’s national football championships, contested in 2012, the following year would propel her into history. With Canada appearing at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, O’Leary became the first woman to be part of the coaching staff. Serving under the tutelage of Olivier Eddie, O’Leary was part of a group of heroes from the MWFL representing Canada on an international scale.

29: Mandy Hamilton-Mallais, First MVP in MWFL History 2005

30: Alexa Matwyczuk, Team Canada 2013 and 2017


Saskatoon Valkyries trounce opponents by 75-0 score during a special season opener

In the quest for five consecutive WWCFL championships, the Saskatoon Valkyries made a strong statement with an astounding 75-0 whitewash of the North Winnipeg Wolfpack, earning their league-record 17th consecutive win at home. In the first quarter alone, the squad accumulated six touchdowns, with the squad boasting a 53-0 lead at halftime.

The home opener also resulted in another unique aspect of history for the franchise. Sophomore running back Samantha Matheson was joined on the team by her mother Crystal, a linebacker participating in her first season with the club. Of note, this represents the first time in franchise history that a mother-daughter duo have played together.

Taking into account that the match occurred on Mother’s Day, it was a very treasured moment for both. Adding to the magic was the fact that Samantha scored three touchdowns before halftime. The topic of football between the two first came up over the winter, when Samantha was working in British Columbia. A very accomplished softball player, Crystal acquiesced to her daughter’s request, attending the Valkyrie’s training camp. One unforeseen element was that the two would have to possibly tackle each other in training camp.

Heading into the home opener, it was truly a family affair for the Matheson’s. With father Adam cheering on, he was joined by Sam’s sisters, Kendal and Makenna, along with brother Ethan. As a side note, Kendal and Makenna currently compete in rugby, a sport that Samantha excelled in before gracing the gridiron with the Valkyries.
Statistically, both mother and daughter enjoyed a fine day. Crystal logged two solo tackles along with an assisted one in her WWCFL debut. Samantha would finish the day with three rushing touchdowns, ranking second on the squad with a superlative 100-yard performance.

This season also marks a change of venue for the franchise as the previous four seasons saw the club dominate at Griffiths Stadium. Relocating to the Saskatoon Minor Football Field, it is part of a season of many transitions. In the aftermath of the 2014 WWCFL championship game, quarterback Candace Bloomquist announced her retirement, leaving a big hole in terms of leadership. Compounding this loss was the fact that Julie David, the all-time leading rusher in Valkyries history will not be suiting up in 2015.

Among the new faces for the Valkyries this season include Stacey Boldt, inheriting the starting quarterback position from Bloomquist, and wide receiver Carly Dyck. Having spent the last two seasons with the Lethbridge Steel (where she also spent time as a field goal kicker), Dyck is looking to capture her first-ever WWCFL title. Against the Wolfpack, Dyck made an impression scoring twice in the fourth quarter, on a 28-yard reception receiving and a 40-yard rushing touchdown. As a side note, Dyck and Ehjae Chan were among the Valkyries who attended the second annual Women’s World Football Games in Tampa, Florida.

Marci Kiselyk would make franchise history as the first player to receive a touchdown pass from Boldt. In addition, Kiselyk would also get a touchdown on special teams. With Denise Kolosky blocking a punt, Kiselyk recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. It was part of an offensive onslaught that saw the Valkyries hold a convincing 32-0 lead within the first eight minutes of the contest.

Returning to the Valkyries after not suiting up in 2014, Julene Friesen had a pair of remarkable touchdown runs, establishing herself as a key component for the running game. Logging the first touchdown of the game on an impressive run of 46 yards, she would run to daylight on a game-best 62-yard scoring run. In addition, she logged a receiving touchdown on a 55-yard pass, establishing herself as a double threat. An element which may prove crucial during the Valkyries’ “Drive for Five”.

References: Darren Steinke