Desire and drive to win

Drive for championship and love of game defining values for Chickness 

As a member of the offensive line for the Halifax Xplosion, Marlene Chickness is one of those unsung heroes in the game. While the guards and tackles do not score the touchdowns or make the dashing rushes, they are the backbone of the offensive configuration. While Chickness began her playing career on the defensive side of the ball, she has found a permanent home on the o-line. The change in position has brought her great personal and sporting reward.

“I have always said my two favorite muscles to work out are my brain and my heart. I love to push myself so the physicality is a big enjoyment.  I originally started on the defensive line and that was fun for me. I do not come off as the most aggressive person, but channeling that energy into tackling people, was like stepping outside of my comfort zone and I loved it.”

While her transition to the offensive line was attributed to another’s injury, the decision to play there was a great symbol of Chickness’ dedication to the team. Although the position is hardly a glamorous one, it requires analysis and strategy, rather than aggression and brute force. An effective line is one that truly knows the essence of teamwork as it is essential to work with the rest of the linemates as a cohesive unit in order for the offense to succeed.

“I only played briefly on defense, when one of the offensive line girls got hurt and I was put in there for a game to fill in for her. When we found out that she would be out the rest of the season, my coach asked how comfortable I felt there and I told him I was more than willing to stay there. It is a difference on offense, (as) it is more of a protective nature and getting the play started.

I have to say adjusting to the offense was made so much easier by everyone there. They were all very supportive and helpful. When you think about football, you do not always think about the lines. Sometimes we do not get recognized but some of the girls on there we could not play without.”

A key quality that helps to define the culture on the Xplosion consists of admiration and mutual respect. The feeling of friendship is one that helps to define Chickness’ experience with the franchise. In discussing which teammates she looks up to, she replied,

“There is a lot. I mean honestly, almost everyone on that team I admire in a different way. There are girls that are kind of quiet, like say Lindsay Bennett or Sarah Ingraham, who do not say much but go out there and give 100% every practice and every game. There are players like Dianne Ikeda whose skill and dedication blow me away.

My two guards on the O-line, Karen Lalonde and Niamh Bermingham; they really stepped up when I got moved over. They helped me learn the playbook quickly and were always so supportive.”

As Chickness can attest to, the importance of the relationship between the quarterback and her offensive line is one that is essential to success. The way that a quarterback co-exists with the line is a sign of strong leadership. For Chickness, the quarterback that she protects is one that she is more than glad to go to war for.

“Our quarterback Ashley Howatt, I think she is a really great leader. She would always give you positive feedback to make you feel appreciated and provide constructive criticism in a way that made it easy to want to step up and play as hard as you can.

I could honestly just go on and on about everyone. I think that having a great attitude and team camaraderie is just as important as having any sort of skill.”

Like so many other athletes, Chickness subscribes to the notion that there is no more offseason. The push towards reaching that championship goal is marked by a commitment to work year round. Complemented by a humble demeanor, her work ethic and desire to learn are the tools that may establish to make her a champion.

“I whole heartedly believe in the saying that there is no off season, only the start of training season. I know I am not the best player out there, but I want to strive to be the best player I can be and continue to grow and learn.

I want to do everything I can to personally perfect my physical shape so that I can be a force out on the field. I work with a personal trainer and that is my main focus, to continue to get better and better so that next summer I have even more energy, more strength, better agility.”

Akin to her teammates, Chickness has an insatiable desire to win a championship. A big step in cultivating the confidence needed to succeed was reached through their regular season over the Capital Area Lady Gladiators. While the Lady Glads went on to win the league title, that win was an emotional catalyst in providing the Xplosion with the momentum to build on the victory.

“I think we are hungry for a championship for sure. The game we won in Fredericton this year, it was extremely emotional to watch girls who have played for three, four, five years finally accomplish what they have been working towards.

I feel that as long as we work hard all year round and stay focused as a team, as long as we continue to have girls and coaches that are dedicated, it is definitely something that is possible in the near future (and I absolutely want to be a contributing factor towards that happening!)”

 “All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Photo credit: Jason Quackenbush

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

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