Defensive Blossom

Rookie sensation McCarthy blossoming into defensive force for the Xplosion

Influenced by her football playing brother, it was inevitable that Courtney McCarthy would one day grace the gridiron herself. As one of the newer members of the Halifax Xplosion, the only Maritime Women’s Football League club in Nova Scotia, she is building on the foundation set by those who founded the league in 2003. She recalls how  the journey towards the sport stared,

“(It was) from watching and supporting my brother and all of my guy friends who played the sport. In my grade 11 year, two ladies from the team came to my high school to recruit for the team but I was not old enough yet to play for them.

So, I approached the head coach of my high schools team. (I wanted) to see if I could get in on their program, as there was already a girl on the team, only to be rejected. It just motivated me more to study and practice on the side within the school’s rugby program until I was old enough to practice and play with the Xplosion.”

Among a new generation of women’s football heroes, McCarthy is proud of the culture of fair play and mutual respect that exists among the players of the MWFL. For her, it is one of her most favourite aspects about strapping on the pads and donning the helmet.

“What I like most about playing football is the sportsmanship between all of the MWFL teams. The support that you get from the coaching staff is tremendous, and the support that you get from your fellow players is just awesome.

That, and through football, you pick up skills that you would never get from any other sport. You tend to learn things about yourself through the training and I just really like making big hits and take downs (laughs).”

In discussing which players or coaches she seeks inspiration from, McCarthy is quick to acknowledge the team as a whole. The life lessons and teamwork skills that have been acquired from competing with the Xplosion have enriched McCarthy’s athletic endeavors.

“Truthfully, they all inspire me. Through all of my years playing locally and provincially on different sports teams and events, this is ultimately the best team I have been on. For just partaking in my first season these ladies (and coaches), they have motivated me in every practice and every game to be better and do better.

Because of them, I have a bigger appreciation for what we do, what we produce and the heart it takes to be on the only all women’s football team in our province (playing) in the MWFL.”

During this season, there were some many memorable moments for the franchise. Competing in the first-ever indoor game in league history was part of a great chapter in the MWFL’s Tenth Annivesary Campaign. For McCarthy, the opportunity to be part of the Xplosion’s win against the eventual league champion Capital Area Lady Gladiators was one of the finest this season,

“Being present and cheering on the team (for) our first win in a long while. Seeing everyone’s reaction to the win, the emotion and support that everyone put into each other, it really reflected onto everyone that day, it was incredible.

While there are the common adjustments that come with being a rookie, being cracked is certainly a rite of passage in any game. One particular cracking stood out as a humorous yet somewhat flattering moment in her nascent career.”

“Also my last game before I was injured (stood out). I kept getting cracked by two opposing players every single play and I could not figure out why. Apparently, it meant that not only did they need one player to get me down and block, but two, which still really did not work for them.


I went from being this Grade 11 girl with some experience and little confidence to this 20 year-old football playing defensive woman that intimidated the other team enough to get cracked on, it really was a great moment.”

Although Halifax is still working on becoming part of the upper echelon in the MWFL, every positive moment is a small victory that can hopefully accumulate into bigger victories. In discussing what it will take to win a champion, McCarthy mentioned,

“I think primarily it is going to take a lot of discipline, but we have the woman power and the coaching ability. Last season was the 10 year anniversary for the MWFL, and this season will be the beginning of a new decade, we have a basis for our training and our skills, and I believe we have what it takes.“

As McCarthy hopes to able to be able to make the club’s championship dreams come true, there is a sense of exhilaration surrounding the franchise. With tremendous enthusiasm, McCarthy optimistically approaches the future with the confidence that the Xplosion’s glory days are coming,

“I am really excited and really like the direction Xplosion is going. To be a part of that movement in our new direction is exciting and we can only go up from now. I believe we are going to be an incredible force. Look out MWFL.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Photo credit: McCarthy Photographic

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