Kowalski sisters set offensive tone for soaring Canada at IFAF Worlds

Akin to the Lamoureux twins and the Potomak sisters in women’s ice hockey, Aimee and Alex Kowalski represent a dazzling duo of sisterly teammates whose heroic performances have elevated them into the colors at the 2017 IFAF Women’s World Championships in Vancouver, BC.

Complemented by the fact that this year signified Canada’s sesquicentennial, it only added to the sense of a sensational achieved celebration for a jubilant Alex, “It did make it a little bit extra special because there was a lot of Canada (themed) stuff out for Canada day so it was a good reminder.”

Serving as Canada’s starting quarterback; it was a milestone that only managed to enhance an already formidable gridiron legacy for Aimee. Complemented by a superlative career as one of the greatest quarterback’s in the WWCFL’s nascent history, the chance to play on the world’s biggest stage for female football on home soil has truly brought her full circle.

Aimee Kowalski passing against Great Britain (Photo credit: Diz Ruptive Photography)

In discussing what it meant to be Canada’s starting quarterback on home soil, Aimee graciously acknowledges that the path towards such a pinnacle was attributed through a constant dedication towards peak performance. With a proud athletic background that ranged a breadth of disciplines, her disciplined approach would set the stage for an unforeseen yet profound impact on the football field.

“When I sat down as a young kid and did some goal setting, I always had this reoccurring itch to be in the Olympics or represent my country at a world event. I never would have thought women’s tackle football would be it but I did not really put a sport to my dream either.

I guess all of the sports I competed at, at a young age were preparing me to be a QB – developing my arm through baseball and softball. Playing basketball and learning how to read a court and watching how people move, and even soccer and track by working with speed. It is a proud feeling knowing that all that time training in the gym and all the sacrifices you make with life to play sport didn’t all go to waste.”

Also part of Canada’s roster in 2013, sharing duties with Saadia Ashraf of the Montreal Blitz, it was only fitting that both were part of such a meaningful and historic time in Vancouver. Ashraf became the first former player in program history announced to serve in a coaching capacity.

Coincidentally, Kowalski’s backup in 2017 was the heiress to Ashraf’s quarterbacking legacy in Montreal, as Maude Lacasse became the second Blitz field general to wear Canada’s jersey. In addition, Marci Halseth, a charter member of the Saskatoon Valkyries, a longtime rival of the Riot, would join Ashraf as another Team Canada alum serving on the coaching staff.

Joining Lacassse among the new generation of gridiron stars making their debut for Team Canada was Aimee’s younger sister, Alex, adding an exciting dimension to the offense. Competing at the wide receiver position, Alex established herself as one of the most dependable players in the Riot’s offensive attack. In spite of being 5’2″, Alex is a competitive spitfire whose heart and love of the game cannot be measured. Considering that Aimee is one of the charter members of the Riot, her legacy is one that has always motivated Alex to be the best player that she can be,

“The fact that Aimee was one of the first women to start the Regina Riot is pretty inspiring in itself.”

Alex (left) and Aimee share a selfie in their Team Canada jerseys (Image supplied by Alex Kowalski)

This year, the offensive synergy between these sensational sisters reached unprecedented heights. Connecting for a key touchdown against Saskatoon in the Western Conference championship game, it provided the Riot with their first lead of the game. The two would generate more offensive fireworks, as Aimee threw four touchdown scores in a 53-0 whitewash against the upstart Calgary Rage.

As the first sisters ever to compete for Canada’s national women’s football team, it was a significant milestone that Aimee and Alex accepted with equal parts vivacity and pride. For Aimee, one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the WWCFL, the chance to share in her gridiron odyssey with her sister has done so much more than just strengthen their unbreakable bond. Incorporating an element of humour, Aimee’s glories would not have enjoyed the same luster without her sister,

“Playing football with Alex has been a very important part of my life. I think being able to spend almost every day with your sister for months on end while you are in your 20s and 30s is extremely rare.

So seeing as not many sisters even get to see each other as much as we do really makes playing football together that much more meaningful. Having success that we have had together really puts the icing on the cake. I can imagine Al and I when we are little old ladies talking about football memories and the people we have met along the way.”

With Canada reaching the gold medal game, the path towards such achievement was highlighted by their remarkable rapport. Undoubtedly, such an accomplished sense was enhanced by the unforgettable performances in the game against their eternal rivals, the United States. Not only did Canada enjoy the first lead of the game, marking the first time that the US were trailing in the history of the IFAF Worlds, Aimee and Alex only added to the sense of history.

Prior to the 2017 edition of the Worlds, the US had never allowed a touchdown in a gold medal game. With Alex on the receiving end of a touchdown pass from her sister, their almost symbiotic relationship on the gridiron symbolized a paradigm shift, setting the tone for an increased confidence among their Canadian teammates,

Alex Kowalski against Team USA in the gold medal game of the 2017 IFAF Worlds (Photo credit: Diz Ruptive Photography)

“It feels pretty cool to say that I was a part of the first touchdown for Canada against the US. I remember after I ran into the end zone Aimee was in the end zone with me celebrating. It was a pretty memorable moment I think for the both of us.”

Reflecting on such a monumental milestone, Aimee also observes the bigger picture. Recounting how a courageous scoring play against an ambitious Great Britain squad in the semi-finals symbolized a turning point in the tournament for these sensational sisters, it subsequently added to their growing legend,

“That was a pretty big moment but what really got me rolling was the pass to her in the Great Britain game. Our offence had not got going yet so we were in a bit of a panic.

On a broken play, I rolled out to my left and hit my sister on a 40 yard pass while on the run. I am not sure if I had done that before in my life so it was a big play and it finally got things moving for us.”

As Vancouver served to extend the pioneering era of female football, the mutual respect that links Aimee and Alex Kowalski is a symbol of a growing list of their amazing achievements. Successful together, their historic presence as the first sisters to suit up for Team Canada has subsequently transformed them into icons. Their series of uplifting performances in Vancouver have definitely entrenched the belief that there is a well-deserved value to be placed upon the inspiring women of the gridiron.

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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