Ring ceremony brings Seattle Mist’s championship journey full circle

As the arrival of 2016 brings with it open tryouts for all clubs in Legends Football League, one events allowed for an opportunity to revisit 2015 one last glorious time. The privilege of that event was bestowed upon the remarkable women of the Seattle Mist, who delivered the first championship in franchise history, and the first major championship in the city of Seattle since the Washington Huskies captured the 1991 college football national title.

Rewarded for their historic season with championship rings, it has assured all of them a special place in club lore. A silver-colored ring, that harkens memories of the Raiders Super Bowl rings (the first to abandon the traditional gold colored ring and adopt a silver color instead), the Mist logo is prominent in the mounting, surrounded by gems and emblazoned by the wording “national champions”.

Seattle Mist championship ring (Image obtained from Facebook)

Seattle Mist championship ring (Image obtained from Facebook)

All members of the Mist, including coaching staff were given rings. Beaming with pride, head coach Chris Michaelson, one of the longest serving coaches in league history, displayed his ring on social media, a long overdue achievement in his accomplished career.

Such an amazing and accomplished team was a blend of established talent and free agent acquisitions, resulting in an ideal amalgam that delivered on all accounts. Among the free agent talent available due to the realignment of the league, a remarkable trinity of acquisitions helps set the tone.

Arriving from the now defunct Jacksonville Breeze, quarterback KK Matheny and wide receiver Bryn Renda were nothing short of
dominant, complementing RB Stevi Schnoor, who was the heartbeat of the Mist offense in 2014. Having also played at the flag football level in college, the rapport not only led into offensive synergy, it provided Matheny with a prime receiving target, one that saw Renda frequently deliver in the clutch.

Seattle Mist championship ring ceremony (Image obtained from Facebook)

Seattle Mist championship ring ceremony (Image obtained from Facebook)

Danika Brace enjoyed a heroic welcome to Seattle, capturing the hearts and minds of its loyal fans with one of the greatest defensive performances in league history. It was the prodigal daughter returning home after seasons of exile in Las Vegas, contemplating retirement in the aftermath of a winless 2014 season. Throughout 2015, she worked tirelessly in the defensive trenches helping to inspire confidence.

Avenging their heartbreaking 2014 playoff loss to their eternal rivals LA Temptation, the Mist defeated the two-time champion Chicago Bliss in front of a jubilant hometown crowd at ShoWare Centre. It capped off a remarkable season that also saw the Mist capture the regular season Western Conference crown. Adding to such elation was the fact that Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll congratulated them in the aftermath of their championship.

With due deference, the Mist could be seen as an underdog champion, having never played for a title before in franchise history. Despite the obstacles presented, no one could deny them their greatness. Refusing to believe the doubters, instead the Mist believed in themselves. These sensational Seattle Mist competitors definitely earned so much respect among their peers in the league following their championship win; it was enhanced by the selection of seven competitors named as competitors in the
All-Fantasy Game in Guatemala City.

Of all the players who now have their fingers adorned with a stylish ring, the feel-good story belongs to Jessica Hopkins. A charter member of the franchise, its fan base saw Hopkins evolve into more than a leader, but a living legend. Her friendship, graciousness and stoic dedication are all a remarkable source of admiration, gaining new fans every season. Along with Stevi Schnoor, one of the most durable and consistently dependable running backs in the league, they became the first women in LFL history to have won championships in both Canada and the US, having captured a title in 2012 with the BC Angels.

Although some players were not available for the ring ceremony, there is no denying that they held a special place in the hearts of those who attended. The ring signifies the arrival into a gratifying immortality, where a long journey consisted of sweat and sacrifice overcame any struggles, emerging in a victorious vindication, an important symbol of respect.

Photo credit: Richard Deflin Photography

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#bryn-renda, #danika-brace, #jessica-hopkins, #kk-matheny, #seattle-mist, #stevi-schnoor

Danika Brace delivers on all accounts in dream season for Seattle Mist

After contemplating retirement following the 2014 season with the Las Vegas Sin, the return of Danika Brace to the gridiron was warmly welcomed by the Seattle Mist. During her time with the Sin, Brace developed into one of the league’s elite performers on defense, becoming an emotional leader, sticking up for her teammates in the face of adversity. Such bravura was exactly what the Mist needed, as the club entered 2015 looking for its first-ever championship.

Part of a sensational free-agent class that included quarterback KK Matheny and wide receiver Bryn Renda (both of the dissolved Jacksonville Breeze), Brace developed quick chemistry with her new teammates, bringing an enthusiasm and determination that set the example on the defensive side of the ball.

In the aftermath of a regular season that saw the Mist grab the Western Conference regular season crown with a 5-1 mark, Brace built on such success with a memorable postseason performance. Grabbing the game-winning touchdown pass against the Los Angeles Temptation in the Western Conference championship game, she would also log 3.5 tackles. In the Legend Cup final against the two-time defending champion Chicago Bliss, not only did Brace rank third among all players in rushing yardage and second in receptions, she would show great versatility by ranking second among all players in tackles, while leading all Mist players, respectively.

A jubilant Brace all smiles after a landmark Legends Cup victory over Chicago (Image obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/SeattleMist?fref=photo)

A jubilant Brace all smiles after a landmark Legends Cup victory over Chicago (Image obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/SeattleMist?fref=photo)

Brace proved to be a remarkable force on both sides of the ball. Akin to Stevi Schnoor, a very talented athlete who has provided solid performances offensively and defensively, their collaborative efforts added a whole new dimension to the Mist’s confidence.

Statistically, both were among the Mist’s top four producers on offense and defense. While Schnoor was the catalyst for the Mist’s running game, earning the league’s rushing title. Brace tied with fellow free agent acquisition with 14 receptions. Of note, Brace’s 112 receiving yards would finish second to Renda and Schnoor managed 13 receptions, providing the Mist with a very potent passing game as all three finished among the league’s top five leading receivers.

Defensively, Brace was the gold standard. While she tied Mist charter member Jessica Hopkins with 19 assisted tackles, she punctuated her impact with an astounding 26 solo tackles, registering 35.5 overall, respectively. Only Chicago’s Alli Alberts managed more tackles (36.5). In addition, Brace and Hopkins tied for second overall in league play with a pair of interceptions each.

Brace’s efforts were a key factor in the Mist allowing only 77.4 rushing yards per game, second only to the Chicago Bliss. Perhaps more impressive was the fact that Brace accounted for 21% of the Mist’s tackles, she managed 6.5 tackles for loss. It was also among the many reasons that Brace was recognized as the 2015 LFL Defensive Player of the Year. Having also had the honor bestowed upon her in 2014, she becomes the first woman in league history to claim the award back-to-back with two different teams, testament to her dominant play.

Complementing such a historical achievement was the fact that she captured the 2015 league MVP Award, the first player in Seattle Mist history to do so. Taking into account that Brace started her career in 2011 with the Mist, the MVP honor helped bring her fabled career full circle. Following it up the next day with an emotional victory against the Chicago Bliss on home soil, capturing the first Legends Cup in team history, it was a storybook ending to a dream season.

In the aftermath of an unprecedented Legends Cup championship, Brace has proudly served as one of the Mist’s ambassadors. Joined by several teammates along the way, she has brought the fabled Cup on a fabled tour of Seattle.

KK Matheny (left) and Brace bringing the Legends Cup to the Seattle Sounders (Image obatined from: https://twitter.com/danikabrace)

KK Matheny (left) and Brace bringing the Legends Cup to the Seattle Sounders (Image obatined from: https://twitter.com/danikabrace)

Complemented by the presence of her proud, winning smile, Brace and the Cup have gone to the top of the world famous Space Needle, while showing up at the stadiums of other famous Seattle sports teams, such as baseball’s Mariners and soccer’s Sounders.

Among all the accolades being recognized by Seahawks head coach, the legendary Pete Carroll on social media may have been the most remarkable honor. Taking into account that Carroll led the Seahawks to victory in Super Bowl XLVIII, his recognition only adds a proud big league feeling to the hard work and sacrifices of empowering women such as Danika Brace, whose 2015 season was one of the finest in modern female football history.

#bryn-renda, #danika-brace, #kk-matheny, #las-vegas-sin, #seattle-mist

Seattle Mist off to their first-ever trip to Legends Cup championship game

Quite possibly the signature rivalry in Legends Football League, the Los Angeles Temptation and Seattle Mist collided in the postseason for another year. Battling for the privilege of representing the Western Conferecne in the upcoming Legends Cup, the familiarity between the two ensured that the intensity would result in another epic confrontation. Adding to the excitement of the event was the fact that it was being contested at Toyota Park in suburban Chicago, the home field of the two-time defending champion Chicago Bliss.

Although the first quarter was a defensive struggle (likely caused by rainy weather earlier in the day), Temptation quarterback Ashley Salerno logged the game’s first touchdown in the dying seconds of the first quarter. With Carmen Bourseau (known affectionately as the F-150) ramming the ball into the end zone for the two-point conversion, the Temptation enjoyed an eight-point lead.

Beginning the second quarter, Mist signal caller KK Matheny showed no signs of panic, which shall prove crucial against a punishing Chicago Bliss defense in the Legends Cup final. Finding Megan Hanson on a 22-yard scoring play, it set the tone for a career day for Matheny. With Mist charter member (and 2012 Legends Cup Canada champion) Jessica Hopkins successfully gaining the two point conversion, the Temptation’s lead had evaporated.

Hopkins would prove to be just as essential on the defensive side of the ball. Having played against Salerno for so many seasons, she was highly effective in breaking up numerous passing attempts, familiarity becoming a key theme.

Despite the Temptation struggling to mount an offensive attack, they managed to regain the lead with only 26 seconds in the second quarter. Successfully running through the middle, disabling the impact of the Mist defense, Sherri Awagah would not only score the Temptation’s second touchdown of the game, she would also manage the two-point conversion.

Even with few seconds remaining, Matheny capitalized, using it to her full advantage. Running out of bounds as a means of strategically stopping the clock, Matheny showed grace under pressure. With just five seconds, she found former Jacksonville Breeze teammates Bryn Renda for a touchdown. Throughout the season, the strong chemistry between the two has proven effective in hotly contested matches against the Temptation.

With just a two-point advantage heading into the third quarter, the Temptation’s dreams of an unprecedented fourth league championship were going to require some real aggression on both sdies of the ball. Instead, it was Seattle pushing closer to their goal, as Matheny managed to find Mele Gilmore for a touchdown pass. Showing great bravura, Matheny would run the ball in for the two-point conversion, as the Mist finally grabbed their first lead in the contest, ahead by six points in a 26-20 score.

Matheny’s efforts were preserved by two remarkable members of the Mist defense. Danika Brace, who is a nominee for both League MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors showed her veteran skill on the gridiron, while rookie safety Kadi Findling was emulating Brace, bruising the Temptation with punishing hits.
Although Ashley Salerno had been frustrated by dropped passes, the Hall of Fame candidate showed why she is one of the greatest signal callers in league history. Finding Amber Reed on a 33-yard pass, it turned the momentum towards the Temptation’s favor.

Awagah pounded into the end zone as the Temptation reclaimed the lead with less than five minutes remaining.
Considering that the 2015 Legends Cup shall be contested in Seattle, the Mist did not want their archrivals to be competing for a championship on their home turf. Such motivation translated into Matheny making a strong case for the MVP Award. Connecting with Danika Brace on a 32-yard scoring play, it would prove to be the game winning score and Matheny’s fourth touchdown of the game.

Despite the win, it would prove to be hard earned. The Temptation regained the ball for one last scoring opportunity. Salerno masterfully picked apart the Mist defense, finding tight end Danielle Harvey, consuming 25 yards. With the ball positioned in the red zone, the Temptation opted for the running game.

Awagah was looking to break through the Mist’s defensive wall and find daylight in the end zone. Instead, she was the recipient of a hit by the underrated Megan Hanson, resulting in a fumble. With Lashaunda Fowler recovering the fumble at the Mist’s six-yard line, there were sighs of relief throughout the Mist’s sideline.

As important as Brace’s touchdown was, the fumble stood as the turning point of the game. Taking into account that it was the game’s only turnover, it could not have come at a more inopportune time for the Temptation. Such a play will haunt the squad throughout the offseason, making the road towards next season one to ponder what went wrong.

Statistically, the Temptation gained the advantage in various categories. In terms of possession time (24:47) and net rushing yards (73), the Temptation managed to convincingly outperform the Mist. As a side note, Carmen Bourseau (41 yards) had outrushed the Mist’s two leading rushers combined (Matheny and Schnoor: 38 yards). Logging more total offensive yards (154) and first downs (13), an argument can be made that the Temptation had a better game on paper.

References: LFL360

#ashley-salerno, #carmen-bourseau, #danika-brace, #jessica-hopkins, #kk-matheny, #legends-cup, #los-angeles-temptation, #seattle-mist

Newest members of Seattle Mist proud attendees at Moyer Foundation Champions for Children luncheon

As the Seattle Mist enter 2015 with several big name free agent acquisitions, they have worked towards making an impact in their new home. Most recently quarterback KK Matheny (formerly of Jacksonville) and defensive back Danika Brace (formerly of Las Vegas) attended one of the most popular charitable events in Seattle’s sporting calendar.

Showing great compassion and a sincere desire to improve the lives of the less fortunate, Matheny and Brace were among the sporting stars on-hand at the Moyer Foundation Champions for Children luncheon. Held at the Washington State Convention Center, it is one of two luncheons held by the Foundation, with the other being in Philadelphia. The objective is to raise funds to fund several signature programs of The Moyer Foundation.

Said programs include Camp Erin and Camp Mariposa, plus the new National Center for Resources & Support. The Camps provided bereavement services for children and teens grieving the loss of a loved one, along with assistance for children affected by addiction. Other initiatives included raising awareness for children in distress.

Founded by former Major League Baseball pitcher Jamie Moyer (who played with the Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies), the Moyer Foundation acknowledges the efforts of volunteers and corporate partners. In addition, there is also the presentation of a Humanitarian Award, which recognizes a national public figure for their commitment to charity and assistance towards children in need.

Graciously establishing their charitable presence in the community, it represented a moment where the strong teamwork skills of both Brace and Matheny shone through. During late 2014, the two were among a group of female athletes that visited Australia, which led to mutual respect and a blossoming friendship.

Having carved a remarkable legacy in the football mad state of Florida, as a Hall of Fame Flag Football player from the University of West Florida, plus All-League honors as quarterback with the Jacksonville Breeze, Matheny helped usher in a new era for female football. Her contributions as the Breeze’s field general made the club an annual postseason contender. Joined by Breeze teammate Bryn Renda as part of the Mist’s free agent class, Matheny brings her enthusiastic demeanor and superlative leadership skills to Seattle, looking to help the Mist claim its first-ever championship.

More than just an elite signal caller and an ambassador for female football; Matheny is also a proud sporting humanitarian. Of note, she has donated time at her church and participated in fund raising for breast cancer research. Enjoying the experience at the luncheon, she went to social media to express her sentiments,

“Such an amazing foundation changing the lives of neglected children around the world! Heartwarming to hear some of the children’s stories that have been helped so much by this foundation being in existence. Every kid deserves to be loved and know they are special.”

Formerly of the Las Vegas Sin, Brace began her career with the Mist, playing alongside her sister. Although several online videos focus on her as one of the league’s premier trash talkers, she also has a soft, generous side. With maturity and kindness, she was an ideal mentor for a rebuilding Sin squad in 2014.

Displaying great leadership off the field, Brace is passionate about participating in mentoring programs and camps. Her goal is to assist youth that have suffered from substance abuse homes or struggled with mental health. It is the kind of leadership that shall provide remarkable long term benefits, while helping to inspire a new generation to follow their dreams the way strong and empowering like Matheny and Brace have.

#themoyerfoundation #giveback #charity #donateyourtimemakeadifference #stopsubstanceabuse #championsforchildren #SpeakLife #CommunityOutreach #SeattleMist

#danika-brace, #kk-matheny, #seattle-mist

Ladies Gridiron League set to kickoff in Australia for 2015

After a rival league announced that it was not going to have a second season in Australia due to financial reasons, the Legends Gridiron League has risen out of the ashes. Taking into account that the rival league had flown in players from its United States-based league to boost interest in the league, it was easy to see it as another example of that league not living up to its promises (as Canadian fans can attest to).

For all the dedicated coaches and players who trained so hard in the off-season, it could not have been more heartbreaking. With the New South Wales Surge on-board, the champions from the rival league’s inaugural Australian campaign, it certainly adds an element of excitement for the budding league.

LGL

Seven teams are poised to sprout in the start-up league with the Victoria Maidens and the New South Wales Surge from the former rival league jumping on board. Import players Danika Brace and Stevi Schnoor have signed on to remain with the Maidens. Other franchises include Tasmania, Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory Spirit.

Originally started in 2012 as a feeder league for teams such as the Surge, a new owner has injected new life into the league, poised to make it work. Discussions of compensation have also brought with it feelings of optimism.

Taking into account that the former rival league was slated to begin its season in October 2014, an official launch is not slated until early 2015. While remaining team names, uniform production and national try-outs are still in the works, it is imperative that relationships with players, coaches, staff, officials and supporters are built on integrity and respect. Sadly, the impact of the rival league (and a lawsuit from a former player in Los Angeles) has created a group of dedicated yet disillusioned female athletes whose dreams of gridiron glory never had the chance to truly reach fruition.

While the discussion of insurance is definitely a step in the right direction, the true substance shall be in its finished product. Certainly the impact of import players such as Brace and Schnoor provides LGL competitors with valuable mentors. As women’s tackle football continues to grow in Australia, the LGL needs to have an actual season in order to not reverse any progress that has been made.

For dedicated fans of female football, there have been far too many setbacks, especially in North America. As these same fans are eager to see the game grow, success would certainly be a welcome boon. Should the league reach its goals and thrive, its greatest legacy may be in showing the former rival league how to do things right.

#danika-brace, #new-south-wales-surge, #stevi-schnoor, #victoria-maidens

Las Vegas Sin rookie sensations bring their impressive game to Australia

With female football starting to grow in Australia, fans will be treated by the presence of a group of future superstars. Sindy Cummings and Markie Henderson are among a group of Las Vegas Sin players who shall be extending their seasons by competing down under.

Cummings and Henderson made such an impression during the Sin’s 2014 campaign that they earned the respect of veteran Danika Brace, who ranked fifth in the league in tackles. Of note, she mentioned them in her farewell address to the team.

Ironically, Brace will be their opponents heading into the Australian campaign, as she will suit up for the Victoria Maidens. The thought of Brace possibly intercepting a Cummings pass or tackling Henderson will certainly be a different experience.

Joining the Queensland Brigade as its field general shall be Cummings. Despite a frustrating winless season in Las Vegas, Cummings emerged as a breakthrough star, with a sparkling rookie campaign that saw her log 10 touchdown passes with zero interceptions.

Known affectionately as Super Sindy, Cummings looks to build on the momentum of her strong rookie campaign with Las Vegas (Artwork obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/sclfl)

Known affectionately as Super Sindy, Cummings looks to build on the momentum of her strong rookie campaign with Las Vegas (Artwork obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/sclfl)

Her 286 passing yards ranked in the league’s top five, while she led all passers with a 100.3 passer rating. Along with Rookie of the Year winner Dakota Hughes (who led all quarterbacks with 324 passing yards), they comprise a new generation of elite quarterbacks.

Along with Cummings, Sin teammates LaChelle Forman and Cynthia Schmidt shall continue their seasons with Queensland. Forman brings stability to the offensive line, giving Cummings a familiar face to protect her. Schmidt would finish the Sin season with 9.5 total tackles, while ranking second on the club with 89 receiving yards and leading all players with four touchdowns.

A solid two-way player, Cynthia Schmidt is ready to occupy such a role down under (Photo credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

A solid two-way player, Cynthia Schmidt is ready to occupy such a role down under (Photo credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

In the absence of Henderson playing for a rival club down under, Schmidt shall likely emerge as Cummings’ favorite target on the Queensland offense. With Remy Olinzock from the Toledo Crush also suiting up for the Queensland Brigade, it will provide the club with a pair of solid two-way players.

Known affectionately as Lil’ Train, Markie Henderson emerged as a premier receiver, giving Las Vegas one of the best quarterback-receiver tandems in the league. She tied with Chicago’s Chris’Dell Harris for first in receptions. Of note, she averaged 11.5 yards per catch (Harris has 14.1).

While she accounted for 40% of the team’s receiving yardage, complemented by three TD receptions, she was equally adept in the running game. She would finish her rookie campaign as the team’s rushing leader, while leading all Sin players in combined yards from scrimmage with 211 yards.

Markie Henderson during player introductions (Photo credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

Markie Henderson during player introductions (Photo credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

Perhaps more impressive was the brutal hit that she laid out on Chicago Bliss cornerback Dominique Collins. Taking into account that Henderson is 5’3” and 120 pounds, she flattened Collins, who measures in at 5’5” and 135 pounds. Video footage went viral as Henderson proved she was not to be taken lightly.

The versatility that Henderson showed in her game will make her a welcome addition to the Western Australia Angels. Joining her on the team shall be marquee running back Tamar Fennell. Of note, Fennell is the only player to have logged an indoor football touchdown in Canada (with the Saskatoon Sirens), the United States (Cleveland Crush) and in Australia (having played in 2013).

While the strong performance of Cummings and Henderson were the highlights in a difficult season of transitions for Las Vegas, it supplies the fan base with the faith that better days shall come soon. The chance to compete in Australia and polish their already strong game may prove to be the turning point in what transforms them from a winless squad to a proud championship team.

#cynthia-schmidt, #danika-brace, #lachelle-forman, #las-vegas-sin, #markie-henderson, #queensland-brigade, #sindy-cummings, #tamar-fennell, #victoria-maidens, #western-australia-angels

Two-way threats Steinmetz and Schnoor to compete together in Australia

In the aftermath of the 2014 indoor female football season in the United States, a group of elite competitors shall be bringing their skills to the game down under. Among the ten women competing in Australia, looking to enhance the quality of the game while providing leadership, a pair of two-way threats may make the biggest mark.

Saige Steinmetz from the Jacksonville Breeze and Stevi Schnoor from the Seattle Mist shall earn the rare opportunity to become teammates. Competing in opposite conferences, the two have never had the chance to see the other play. Making their way to the Victoria Maidens, the two may be the final pieces of a championship puzzle.

vm

Joining them in Victoria shall be Danika Brace, a former Mist player who served as a captain with the Las Vegas Sin. Quarterback KK Matheny, who played alongside Steinmetz with the Breeze, rounds out a remarkable quartet of elite female football talent.

During the 2014 American indoor female football season, Steinmetz was the only player to finish among the top five in offensive and defensive leaders. Of note, Steinmetz ranked second in rushing with 305 yards, complemented by six touchdowns.

Defensively, she finished fifth in league play in sacks. Accounting for 80% of the Breeze’s rushing yardage, Steinmetz also led the club with 309 combined yards from scrimmage. Her 11.5 total tackles ranked second on the Breeze, including an astounding 7.5 for loss, best among all Breeze commpetitors. Her season would culminate with an appearance in the Eastern Conference championship game, along with the honor of league MVP bestowed upon her.

Equally adept at the running game is Schnoor. The Most Valuable Player at the 2013 Pacific Cup, Schnoor finished behind Steinmetz in rushing yards with 267, ranking third in league play. She accounted for 69% of the Mist’s rushing game, while also finishing second on the Mist in receptions. Her 334 combined yards from scrimmage were tops amongst all Mist competitors, earning her a league nomination for Most Outstanding Player on Offense.

On the opposite side of the ball, Schnoor brought a well-rounded game. Her 8.5 total tackles ranked fourth on the Mist, while she led the club with 3 tackles for loss. In addition, she recovered two fumbles, establishing herself as an asset for the Mist.

Both solid two-way competitors, they are both poised to capture the hearts and minds of fans down under, the way they have in the US. Regardless of the season’s outcome, the chance for novice players and fans alike to earn the chance to see their greatness shall make it one to remember.

#danika-brace, #jacksonville-breeze, #kk-matheny, #saige-steinmetz, #seattle-mist, #stevi-schnoor, #victoria-maidens