International impact

Kowalski an impact player for Canada at 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds

As an elite quarterback for the Regina Riot in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, Aimee Kowalski was selected as one of the pivots for the Canadian contingent at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds. Among all competitors at the Women’s Worlds, Kowalksi would rank fourth overall with a pass efficiency rating of 134.0, while her punting average of 32.8 yards ranked second overall, respectively. Her 73 rushing yards would rank fourth overall on the Canadian squad while she managed to lead the team in two others categories; her 189 yards of total offense paced all players along with her 9 punts totaling 295 yards.

While she was in a backup capacity to Saadia Ashraf, she managed to have some big moments. Kowalski emerged as one of the heroes in the comeback win against Finland to advance to the gold medal game. After a halftime score of 12-6 in favor of the Finns, Kowalski handled the reins at quarterback and began to bring some efficiency to a refreshed offensive attack.

“I was grateful for the opportunity to play against Finland. We knew they were preparing for us more compared to any other team and playing on their turf was added pressure.

The team did a great job holding on through the first half considering the elements which was key going in, in the second half.  I knew if I went in and played my game the rest of the team would pull through.”

While Canada’s first possession of the second half resulted in a 45-yard punt by Kowalski, she would eventually change the momentum. With a second possession that resulted in Lydia Jolicoeur making three successive rushes, Kowalski ran it in on a 16-yard run to supply Canada with the lead. She would finish the game with 116 passing yards and 152 punting yards as her presence helped Canada move past the host country and into the gold medal game.

Although Kowalski appeared in all of Canada’s games at the Women’s Worlds, the comeback she orchestrated against Finland represented a great point of pride. The touchdown that she scored against Finland helped to put the momentum in Canada’s favour and stood as one that she will treasure for years to come.

“I felt the most involved against Finland, so I would have to say the touchdown that I ran in to tie up the game will always be a memory for me. It felt good because it was the beginning of our momentum and I think it got a lot of the team’s heads back in the game.”

While fans recognize Kowalski as a great quarterback, it may have come as a great surprise to see her pull double duty for Team Canada as a punter. To see her play as a punter and quarterback was reminiscent of when Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr played both positions while at the University of Alabama.

As Kowalski was a competitive soccer player at the collegiate level, it would have seemed natural to pencil her in for punting duties. While the opportunity to punt came by chance, she is very humble about her role,

“I never really thought of myself as a punter. I played soccer in college and I did not have the strongest leg even then, so it was pretty easy to over look. In one of the early Riot practices, I think I was fooling around, when our special teams coach suggested that I try a couple of practice punts and it stuck. I rarely get a good punt when I am just practicing or warming up, but when it comes game time they tend to go pretty deep.”

A unique aspect of donning the Canadian jersey for Kowalski was the fact that many of her teammates were from the rival Saskatoon Valkyries. With six Riot players and ten Valkyries players, the province of Saskatchewan was proudly represented.

While their WWCFL rivalry reached new heights in 2013 as the Riot not only won their first division title, but snapped Saskatoon’s undefeated streak, the players managed to find a mutual respect as members of the Canadian contingent. Kowalski remarked one of the most unique rivalries in all of women’s football.

“The relationship that the Riot and Valkyries have is pretty special. We certainly respect each other’s talent and skills but also respect each other as people. When you start traveling around the world with anyone, even if it’s your biggest rival it’s pretty hard to not become friends.

Furthermore, your relationship grows when you’re faced with everyday challenges on the football field and whether you like each other or not, you still need to learn to overcome the obstacles of playing against each other in regular season.”

”All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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