Ingraham represents fighting spirit of Xplosion

As the Halifax Xplosion celebrates their tenth anniversary season, there are many women whose efforts helped propel the club towards this important milestone. Among them is Sarah Ingraham, who captured the team’s Unsung Award in 2014 and followed it up with Defensive MVP in 2015.

Like so many of her fellow veteran teammates, Ingraham’s gridiron career has run parallel to the growth of the female game in Canada. Through this pioneering time, her enthusiasm for the game has never faltered, with playing roots that can be traced back to her teens when her first experience gracing the gridiron represented a sporting rite of passage,

“I have been playing football since I was 16 years old. I played on the first Lockview High football team and was the only girl in my high school at that time. It was very hard for me to fit in on that team. Yet, I stayed because I loved it. I have a huge passion for football.

After high school, I was lucky enough to find this team (Xplosion). I have played on this team since day one. Even though it was not always easy, I stayed because I love playing football. I will admit there was more than a few times when I wanted to quit due to coaching issues. I have been there through the good coaches and those that probably should have never been there.”

Among the aspects that make Ingraham a valued member of the Xplosion is her cerebral approach to the game. With a willingness to learn, Ingraham has also taken to the coaching ranks, enriching her knowledge of the game while inspiring others to pursue their own gridiron glories.

Such an approach will definitely add a new dimension to Ingraham’s MWFL career. While the landmark tenth anniversary of the Xplosion represents a sporting milestone for her, which sees her proudly return to the club, she is also experiencing her own personal milestone, one that is propelling her into a different role this season.

“When I am not playing, I am coaching minor football in the community. I have done coaching off and on for years. This is the first year (that) I am unable to play and it is killing me. At least I was able to come back and help coach the women’s team this year. I will stick with this team until I can no longer play or coach. This team has grown so much, along with the ladies and coaches, and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Compared to Ingraham’s earliest years with the team, there has been remarkable growth as a player, leader and teammate. Proving that learning is truly a never-end process, it has also proven to be a defining factor in the last few seasons. Among one of the Xplosion’s most admirable aspects is the fact that they have participated in the community’s pride parade since 2014. Of note, Ingraham was among the players that proudly donned the team’s colors and marched, representing a proud spirit of unity and respect for diversity.

Ingraham (right) wearing number 55 is all smiles at the Halifax Pride Parade (Image obtained from Facebook)

Ingraham (right) wearing number 55 is all smiles at the Halifax Pride Parade (Image obtained from Facebook)

Adding to such jubilation was the club’s resurrection as a postseason contender. Last season, the club experienced a .500 winning percentage, bouncing back from a difficult 2014 that saw the club endure a winless campaign. Ingraham is quick to acknowledge that the commitment of the coaching staff has proven to be a boon for the club, helping set a positive tone,

“I have grown as a player because of the good coaches in the early years. They helped me a lot to become the player I am today. I am still learning so much from our very knowledgeable coaches (that) we are lucky to have today. I have so much respect for them.

They came in when this team was at an all-time low. They are now rebuilding this team, pretty much from nothing to where it should have always been, where it was when Nick Barr was head coach. We always had the talent in past years but it was never probably put in place to where it could be successful, until last year.”

One of the most admirable aspects about Ingraham is her authenticity. While her reflections on the Xplosion represent feelings of pride and achievement, there were also darker times, defined by winless seasons and an ominous sense as to whether the team would return for another season of play. Ingraham is not afraid to acknowledge such times, as they proved to be the finest hour for many in the organization, motivating them to show great character in carrying onwards, even when it seemed bleak.

“I really had no choice in becoming a leader on this team. We had to banner together or we would not have had a team. There are only a few of us that have stuck through it all. I know being a leader in the past with some coaches has gotten me into trouble and losing out on awards and recognition among those coaches.

Yet, I do feel the players or most of them always had respect for me. I was there because I loved playing and did not want to deal with any drama or be involved in it. I just wanted to play and have the players and coaches respect and see this team succeed. I feel we had both last year, for the first time since Nick Barr left.”

Through it all, Ingraham remains loyal, ever determined to see the Xplosion reach its potential. Like the other strong women that have placed an enormous emotional investment in the club, it has become an extension of their aspirations and ambitions. Undoubtedly, the club’s impact on women’s sports in Nova Scotia shall be lasting, thanks to the efforts of such women.

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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