Jenna Koller a jubilant contributor in Regina’s run to the championship

Among a new generation of enthusiastic competitors that are extending the proud legacy of the Regina Riot, while shaping a new chapter in club lore, Jenna Koller combines a willingness to learn with a fervent approach to the game. Donning number 85, Koller, who majored in Philosophy at the University of Regina, is part of a group of four wide receivers with less than three years experience on the Riot.

Jayda Duval, a resident of Saskatoon, is the lone rookie on the receiving corps, while Olivia Rempel and Diana Nesbitt join Koller as second year receivers. As a side note, sixth-year receiver Alex Kowalski, an alum of the Canadian national women’s football team, hails from the same hometown as Koller; Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

For the second year player, the defining moment of the season was one that did not take place on the field. Faced with a devastating situation, as the Riot suffered from an unfortunate incident where its equipment was stolen, it proved to be a unifying moment.

With jerseys graciously supplied to them, it served as the catalyst to remain driven to finish the season undefeated. Despite the fact that the replacement jerseys had the name “Thunder” on the front, there was no question as to which team was wearing said jerseys. Bringing greater meaning to team spirit, the outpouring of support and ability to regroup is one that left an indelible impression on Koller.

Reflecting on the admirable drive to bounce back and regroup for the remainder of the season, Koller saw numerous instances of friendship and the subsequent strengthening of bonds between teammates, all positive examples of a season saved. Undoubtedly, the incident is one that shaped Koller’s character, emerging as a stronger person.

“Whenever people are faced with adversity and are able to overcome it, it builds character and strengthens the bonds between those people. Our team showed forgiveness for the people that stole our jerseys, support for our staff that were affected by the theft and appreciation for the community and their willingness to help. Having our jerseys stolen gave us the opportunity to overcome an obstacle together, which ultimately added to the strength of our organization.”

On the road to a second straight Western WCFL championship, the Regina Riot not only assembled one of the most dominant seasons in league history, the path towards such a vaunted pinnacle involved a very different playoff format, providing a sense of uniqueness. With the format changing to inter-conference play, as the first place team in each conference challenged the second place team from the opposing conference.

Challenging the Edmonton Storm, a club looking to capture its first-ever championship, it proved to be an experience that Koller enjoyed. Of note, it marked the first time in her young career that she played against the Storm, one of Alberta’s most revered and established clubs. The experience gained from playing a non-traditional opponent added to her confidence, indulging in the opportunity to grace the gridiron against unfamiliar opposition on the defense.

“Playing the Edmonton Storm in the semi-finals really allowed for a more exciting and interesting road to the Finals. Having that cross-over let us play a team we would not normally meet during the season. It allowed us to grow and develop into an even stronger team heading into the Finals. It was a great change to our playoff format!”

Gaining the opportunity to play in the WWCFL championship game, it was a proud season highlight for Koller, reaching the summit that every player aspires to. Considering that said game was held in Regina, it only added to her desire to emerge victorious, eager to capture her second title in as many seasons.

Hosting their eternal rivals, the Saskatoon Valkyries, the Riot faced a 10-0 deficit. With the home field advantage, the Riot refused to quit, wanting to avoid disappointment in front of their devoted fans. Mounting a 14-point comeback, the victory not only placed the Riot into dynasty status with its third title in four years, it also resulted in an unprecedented three-game sweep of the Valkyries.

“The WWCFL championship game is the moment we all work towards. It is the end goal, something we all think about and train towards during the entire season. Having the opportunity to play in that game in front of our home crowd was very special.

Athletes, coaches, staff, and spectators were involved in the game and that made the atmosphere very invigorating. I remember seeing the intensity in my teammates eyes, the attentiveness from our coaches and the investment from the crowd; all of which contributed to the incredible experience. It will definitely be a game I will always remember.”

Indubitably, the jubilation of a championship is one that adds luster to the experience of donning the colors of the Riot. Commenting on the gratifying elements of gracing the gridiron with one of Western Canada’s signature teams, Koller displays a strong maturity.

Understanding the responsibility that comes with the privilege of calling herself part of the team, a sincere appreciation of the team culture, and the work ethic that entails contributing towards such a positive group, is in part helping to shape the ethos of the Riot, developing a gold standard which is destined to stand as the template for other teams to emulate in seasons to come.

“Everyone expects you to be the best version of yourself. Coaches and teammates hold you to a standard of athleticism only found in elite sports and this creates an environment where you not only play the sport for fun, but are able to challenge yourself as an athlete and develop into the best football player you can be.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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