Ten best moments of 2013 Canadian women’s football

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Honorable Mention: Three Canadians make their mark at LFL’s Pacific Cup

With the cancellation of the 2013 LFL Canada season, a trio of competitors from the BC Angels made their presence felt. With the Legends Football League hosting the Pacific Cup, its annual holiday showcase, in Seattle, Angels players Stevi Schnoor, Deanna Schaper-Kotter and Mary-Anne Hanson made the cross-border trek to suit up for the Seattle Mist.

Each Angels player would make a mark in the 27-25 Mist victory over the Los Angeles Temptation. Of note, Hanson became the first quarterback to compete in the Pacific Cup with two different teams. Schaper-Kotter made her LFL debut in the contest, while Stevi Schnoor logged three touchdowns, to become the first Canadian born player recognized as Pacific Cup Most Valuable Player.

Honorable Mention: Lisa Klaverkamp the oldest player competing at IFAF Women’s Worlds

Born in 1967, Lisa Klaverkamp of the Manitoba Fearless held the honor of being the oldest player at the IFAF Women’s Worlds. Only two other women at the event had also been born in the 1960’s.

Canada’s Amy Mohr, who once played with Klaverkamp for the Fearless was a 45 year-old punter on the Canadian contingent. Germany’s Gabriel Duvinage (who threw for 141 yards in the bronze medal game) was also 45.

Similar to hockey legend Gordie Howe, Klaverkamp not only seems to get better with age, but shows no signs of slowing down. Reputed as one of the hardest hitters in the WWCFL, it would come as no surprise if she was the first woman to play in the league at 50 years old.

10: MWFL plays its first indoor game

Facing hurricane-like conditions, the Halifax Xplosion were forced to make a difficult decision; either reschedule the match or consider an alternate venue. Competing in an indoor facility, history was made as the Xplosion hosted the Moncton Vipers in the league’s first-ever indoor game. Considering it was the Maritime Women’s Football League’s Tenth Anniversary, the milestone was fitting. While the Moncton Vipers prevailed over the Xplosion, the match only adds to the growing lore of the league.

9: WWCFL players selected in CWHL Draft

Continuing to break barriers, the WWCFL enjoyed another opportunity to write women’s sporting history in Canada. In the summer of 2013, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League held its annual player draft. Saskatoon Valkyries player Julie Paetsch and Okotoks Lady Outlawz rookie Georgia Moore were both selected by the Calgary Inferno hockey club.

A former Canada West scoring champion with the Saskatchewan Huskies, Paetsch finished the first half of the 2013-14 CWHL season as one of the Inferno’s top scorers. Battling a back injury, Moore has yet to suit up for the club but has strong credentials. A former member of the Australian National Women’s Hockey Team, she has also played for the now defunct Strathmore Rockies of the WWHL.

8: Emma Hicks becomes first national team member to compete in MWFL and WWCFL

In the nascent history of the Canadian National Women’s Football Team, it was inevitable that a member of the squad would have playing time in both the MWFL and WWCFL. A former member of the Capital Area Lady Gladiators, Hicks suited up for the Regina Riot in 2013, becoming the first member in the history of the National Team to have played in both leagues. It was part of a landmark year for Hicks which saw her appointed to the position of Female Football Development Director at Football Saskatchewan.

7: Montreal Blitz capture third IWFL Tier II championship

With 11 members of the Blitz having competed for Canada at the IFAF Women’s Worlds, their momentum would propel the squad to another championship season. Competing for the 2013 IWFL Tier II championship, it signified the third Tier II title in franchise history. Complemented by a Tier I title in 2012, the Blitz have now won three IWFL titles in four seasons.

6: Regina Riot snap Valkyries unbeaten streak

Having gone undefeated during the 2011 and 2012 WWCFL seasons, the Saskatoon Valkyries were the gold standard by which all others were compared by. Led by quarterback Aimee Kowalski, an ambitious Regina Riot squad was looking to prove they were worthy of being part of the championship picture.

A 15-7 victory on Mother’s Day over the Saskatoon Valkyries snapped one of the most dominant winning streaks in the history of Canadian women’s football. Ironically, the Valkyries streak began on May 28, 2011 with a 56-6 win over the Riot. Having developed into one of the signature rivalries in Canadian women’s football, the Riot and Valkyries are poised for more epic clashes in 2014.

5: Underdog Capital Area Lady Gladiators capture Judy Upward Trophy

Having endured a difficult regular season which included a loss to the last place Halifax Xplosion, the Capital Area Lady Gladiators were not favoured in the postseason picture. With the first place Saint John Storm hosting SupHer Bowl X, the MWFL’s premier showcase, the Lady Glads were expected to fold. With the leadership of Alex Black at quarterback, the squad bounced back from a difficult regular season to upset the Storm. Of note, the match signified the retirement of legendary lineman Robyn Neill, going out as a champion.

4: Rage and Xplosion players show pride in the community

Spearheaded by Holly Arthur, the Halifax Xplosion franchise made new inroads in their community. Participating in the Halifax Pride Parade, it was an opportunity for the club to not only celebrate the diversity in their community, but to make new friends. Recognized as one of the most popular participants, it was a landmark moment as the club looks for growth.

Inspired by their performance, Janet Naclia and several members of the Calgary Rage wanted to emulate their kind gesture. Marching in the Calgary Pride Parade, the Rage captured the hearts and minds of many in attendance.

3: MWFL celebrates its tenth anniversary

Having established itself as one of the longest existing Canadian sporting leagues for women, the MWFL celebrated a remarkable milestone for 2013. With its tenth anniversary, it was an opportunity to acknowledge the pioneers who built the game, but build for a promising future. From the naming of an All-Decade Team to its first indoor game to having several players compete for Canada in the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, it helped solidify a foundation upon which the league hopes its second decade shall build on.

2: Saskatoon Valkyries become first dynasty in WWCFL history

Contested at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, the Saskatoon Valkyries became the WWCFL’s first dynasty with its third consecutive championship. Facing the Lethbridge Steel for the second consecutive season, the Valkyries never relinquished the lead once in the contest. Enjoying a 27-13 victory, Julene Friesen amassed an astounding 204 rushing yards, while Julie Paetsch was named as Saskatoon’s Defensive Player of the Game. Candace Bloomquist solidified her legacy as the first WWCFL quarterback to capture three straight titles.

1: Canada comes back against Finland

Competing against host country Finland in the semi-finals of the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, the Canadian contingent was facing the biggest upset in IFAF Women’s history. At halftime, Finland boasted a 12-6 lead.

As Aimee Kowalski assumed quarterback duties in the second half, she would march in for a quarterback sneak to give Canada the 13-12 lead. Lya Jolicoeur would also log two touchdown scores as key defensive plays by Emma Hicks and Julie Paetsch neutralized any comeback attempt from Finland. Prevailing by a 34-12 tally, the comeback proved to be the defining moment of the event for many of these remarkable competitors.

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