Leadership momentum

Kellsey-Shoemaker enters sophomore season as Rage signal caller

In the aftermath of the 2014 Western Women’s Canadian Football League season, Ashley Kellsey-Shoemaker approaches the 2015 campaign with great confidence. As a rookie in 2014, where she served as the starting quarterback for the Rage, it was a difficult season that saw the club suffer a last place finish, through a difficult rebuilding phase.

Having already shown great improvement on the field in 2015, Kellsey-Shoemaker is excited for the possibilities. After a hard-fought loss to the Lethbridge Steel (in which Steel head coach Kessie Stefanyk became the first female head coach to win a WWCFL regular season game), she led the Rage to a victory against the defending Western Conference champion Edmonton Storm.

With family a football affair for Kellsey-Shoemaker, the chance to grace the gridiron is one that consists of great jubilation. Growing up as a Calgary Stampeders fan, the chance to emulate her football heroes, while contributing to an exciting chapter in Western Canadian sporting history comprises a thrilling and exhilarating time for her,

“I have always loved the sport. My family has had season tickets for the Calgary Stampeders for quite a few years now. I started playing flag football first in junior high, and progressed to playing tackle football in high school.

Over the years I have been very lucky to get to know several Stampeder players who have helped me develop skills for several positions. From kicking/punting to being a quarterback, I first got involved with the Rage when a veteran player (Whitney Issik) approached me at a Stamps game and told me I should check out the team. And the rest is history….”

Making her WWCFL debut in 2014, the chance to be back on the gridiron exceeded any fanciful expectations that Kellsey-Shoemaker had. Returning to a sport that she once participated in, the gridiron provided residual warmth. As the sport represented a formative period in her athletic endeavors, she is firmly devoted to seeing the Rage succeed,

“It felt great to be back out on the field and all geared up. It had been several year since I played. My first season with the Rage did not really go the way I planned though, as I had a bit of a rough start. I actually broke my ankle in the jamboree. So I missed our first two games of our season.

Yet, with the help and support from my athletic therapist and the team I was able to get back in and play the remaining three games of our season. Everyone on the team was super helpful and welcoming.”

In fighting back from injury, the one element that endeared Kellsey-Shoemaker was the feeling of friendship and support that defined the team culture. There was certainly no quarterback controversy when she returned to the team. In reflecting on the ups and downs of her rookie campaign, the maturity and acumen of veteran quarterback Annie Tremblay provided Kellsey-Shoemaker with confidence,

“The player that helped me the most was my fellow quarterback Annie Tremblay. She is a great leader on and off the field. She was a huge help getting me back into the swing of things. We would/still do spend time talking through things that could make us better individually and as an offence.

Erin Walton, who is another player for the Rage, took last season off from playing. She took on a coaching position with the team and she was another very influential person for me coming in as a rookie QB for the Rage.”

With the support of such veteran leaders, it has paid positive dividends for Kellsey-Shoemaker and the Rage. Possessing a .500 record, it is a significant improvement on this point last season, only helping to build momentum for the remainder of the season. With Kellsey-Shoemaker growing into a leadership role as the squad’s signal caller, she shares her insights on what she believes are the best qualities of her game,

“I try not to over think things. Not every play is going to be perfect. When something goes wrong I acknowledge it and move onto the next play. I find being able to stay calm on the field helps.

There is nothing worse than panicking in a situation and then being stressed out the rest of the game because of it. Because negativity can spread and if you are not confident in yourself and your decisions, then your teammates will not be either.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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