Calgary welcome mat

LFL:  Calgary Fillies welcomed into the LFL Canada fold for the 2013 regular season

With a strong football heritage, the city of Calgary will serve as the backdrop for the newest football team in the Canadian branch of the Legends Football League. Known as the Calgary Fillies, the expansion franchise will replace the Toronto Triumph.

While Toronto was the only franchise to have competed in both LFL United States and LFL Canada, the other three Canadian-based teams of LFL Canada were based out west. The BC Angels (based out of Abbottsford, British Columbia), the Regina Rage and the Saskatoon Sirens comprised the rest of LFL Canada in its inaugural season.

Like many other cities in Western Canada, Calgary has its share of football lore. From the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL to the Calgary Dinos in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, there are also strong roots in women’s football. From the Calgary Rockies to the modern day Calgary Rage in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, the Fillies are part of the next chapter in Calgary football.

For the expansion franchise, a key indicator of how the season may unfold will take place on July 7. Serving as the first open tryout for the team, the athletes in attendance will determine if the level of talent available can comprise a postseason contender.

During the 2012 LFL Canada season, one of the most intriguing aspects of the tryouts for the franchises involved the unique background of the athletes. Many had experience in soccer, while others had competed at the national level in their respective sports.

Of note, Stevie Schnoor of the BC Angels was a former member of the Canadian National Rugby team, and emerged as a postseason hero for the franchise. Carrie Britton of the Saskatoon Sirens competed at the national level in softball. In addition, Kylie Rossler of the Regina Rage had competed in NCAA women’s hockey at Mercyhurst College.

With their success in LFL Canada (Rossler was one of the top five rushing leaders in LFL Canada), these athletes suddenly became two-sport stars, adding a new dimension of interest to the sport. If the eventual roster of the Fillies consists of such accomplished athletes, it may help overcome the struggles that are expected of expansion teams.

The Toronto Triumph, which competed in LFL US in 2011, and LFL Canada in 2012, endured their share of expansion woes. In 2011, the club went 0-4, losing to US-based teams in double digits. They also lost the first three contests in 2012. Their final game of the 2012 season resulted in an upset of the eventual league champion BC Angels.

Adding Calgary to the mix (which was considered for a franchise in the inaugural LFL Canada season in 2012) helps to strengthen the league’s presence in Western Canada. With the rivalry between Regina and Saskatoon having emerged as one of the finest in all of LFL, it will be interesting to see if the same intensity can be matched between Calgary and the BC Angels.

The first contest in franchise history will be held on Saturday, September 14 at the Stampede Corral versus the Regina Rage. Their next two contests involve going out on the road. The defending LFL Canada regular season champions Saskatoon Sirens oppose the Fillies on September 28.

Regina shall be the next opponent as they host the Fillies on October 5 at Brandt Centre. Their expansion season culminates a month later on November 9. A home date sees the Fillies hosting the BC Angels, defending postseason champions. While time will tell if the outcome of their expansion season is a success, it will finish with the Fillies serving as the host franchise for the Legends Cup.

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