Injecting confidence

Walton’s comeback to inject confidence in Calgary Rage

One of the greatest players to have donned a Calgary Rage jersey, Erin Walton is eager to get back on the gridiron.
With ambitions to continue her stellar career, Walton sat out the 2014 season in order to recover from nagging injuries and ensure she is in peak condition as the 2015 campaign approaches.

“I have focused only on playing touch football and have myself back onto a training regime focused on getting me healthy and stronger to continue to play the game the way I want to play the game.”

Although she was not competing in 2014, she was still an essential part of the franchise. Walton helped inspire a rookie crop with her experience and maturity as a member of the coaching staff. While she contributed to the offensive unit, former teammate Connie Fekete was also dipping her toe into the coaching waters. Serving on the defensive unit, she earned high praise from Walton,

“Connie being part of the coaching staff helped a lot! We are fortunate, as are many teams in the WWCFL, to have male coaches who want to help us develop into respected and knowledgeable female coaches. Obviously, coaching in women’s football is still very much a male dominated area, and rightfully so; it’s been a male dominated sport for decades and now that women are participating in the sport.”

The two helped signify a new era in Western Women’s Canadian Football League football as women are starting to make inroads as coaches. In addition, it marks a substantial way for injured veteran players to stay involved with the game during recovery.

“I believe it is critical to its sustainability and continued progression that we start to develop female coaches. So, having Connie coaching on D and myself on O ensured that there was a female coaching presence on both sides of the ball, which was very important for our players to see and respond to.”

Despite a difficult season that resulted in Calgary not being able to climb up in the standings and improve on their 2013 campaign, it was still an important season for the club. Being able to recruit new talent represented the growing importance of female football in Calgary.

Should Calgary manage to claim a championship in the next few years, the rookie crop of 2014 may be seen as its turning point. The fact that the club was able to have Walton and Fekete serve on the coaching staff also signified that the future of developing female coaches is in good hands.

“I believe that a big challenge for women who first start playing this game is that it takes longer for them to understand not only the “what” of the game (what route to run, what block to make, what pass route to key on first) but even more importantly the “why” of the game (Why am I running that route? Why am I making that block? Why am I looking to throw that pass first?) and how it all goes together to create organized chaos at its finest.

Being able to help our players better understand that aspect of the game was probably what I enjoyed the most…oh and getting to be the OC for our final game was pretty awesome (and hard!) too!!”

Working as a coach helped Walton develop a familiarity with the players. Considering how special the opportunity was for her, it may prove an important chapter in her storied career. When she plays next season, she will have the chance to cultivate the familiarity with players even further, being able to provide guidance in the trenches of game play.

“I enjoyed everything about coaching this season! I got to be vocal and passionate and firing the girls up was always on my agenda! I enjoyed teaching skills and just talking to players about football itself and what they see and what they NEED to see and how to make all come together.”

As Walton prepares with anticipation for her comeback in 2015, she will be able to set an example on the field, which in turn should help to further motivate and inspire her teammates. It is the type of leadership and positive attitude that may help Walton become a third-time member of Canada’s national team for the 2017 IFAF Women’s World Football Championships. Although Walton had to respect boundaries as a coach, ensuring that she was an authority figure, the 2015 season will show the younger players an even more special side, that side of her as a friend.

“Coaching taught me so much more about football and I enjoyed every single second of it. I can hardly wait to try to apply what I learned as a coach back onto the field as a player next season!”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

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