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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.