Lisa Gomes gears up for new gridiron chapter with Detroit Dark Angels

In what is shaping to be the most memorable season in the remarkable career of Lisa Gomes, one that sees her poised to make her debut with the Canadian national women’s team at the 2017 IFAF Women’s World Championships, an exciting chapter is unfolding. Having spent over five seasons with the Calgary Rage in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League (WWCFL), transitioning to the sport from rugby, the 26 year-old Gomes is now donning the colors of the Detroit Dark Angels in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA).

Having made the move from her home province of Alberta to the Greater Toronto Area for work-related reasons, Detroit offered Gomes the most competitive team in terms of geographic proximity in order to continue gracing the gridiron. As the GTA does not yet have its own competitive league, let alone a competing team participating in any existing leagues, Gomes admirably makes a weekly four-hour trek from Toronto to Detroit in order to continue participating at an elite level of play.

In action versus the Pittsburgh Passion (image supplied by Lisa Gomes)

Representing a remarkable commitment for Gomes, the latest chapter in her unfolding gridiron odyssey sees her joined by a loyal companion, her pet dog, Milo. While it allows for a more pleasant journey, the reality of such arduous travel has also resulted in limitations,

“The biggest adjustment was definitely the amount of practices I could attend. Due to the four-hour drive, I could not make (the) middle of the week practices. I am a pretty dedicated person so it was rough not making those practices. I love road trips, so the travel was not too bad with my dog. You get used to it.”

Part of a growing legacy that has seen other Canadian-born players compete south of the border, Gomes adds a first-rate presence to the Dark Angels, with multiple appearances in the World Women’s Football Games to her credit, testament to her dedication. In seasons prior, other Canadians in the WFA have included the likes of Emilie Belanger and Cassie Brick with the Chicago Blitz plus Emilie Halle, an alum of the Dark Angels. As a side note, Brick was one of the players named to the Team Canada roster that shall participate at this year’s IFAF Women’s Worlds.

Considering Gomes’ experiences with the Women’s World Football Games, having participated last year in New Orleans while she was also at the 2017 edition in Orlando, she possesses a great confidence that makes her an ideal fit with the Dark Angels. As said experiences resulted in Gomes competing against players from the world over, including many American stars, she has displayed the proficiency to be able to compete at their level.

Undoubtedly, the Dark Angels and the WFA certainly present some significant differences in comparison to the Rage and the WWCFL. In discussing some of the contrasting aspects between both leagues, the sheer size presents a substantial variance.

“In my opinion, there are a couple of big differences between the WWCFL and the WFA. The biggest would have to be the number of guaranteed games. In the WWCFL, we are guaranteed four games, whereas in the WFA, we are guaranteed eight games. The WFA also has about 65 teams in the league and the WWCFL has less than 10 teams.”

Back when Gomes wore the Rage colors, the regular season consisted of competing only against teams in the province of Alberta. With the Dark Angels, Gomes has found herself in numerous parts of the Midwest, gracing the gridiron in locales such as Chicago, Cleveland, Indianpolis, Pittsburgh and Toledo, among others. Worth noting, the geographic proximity between Detroit and some of the rival teams is far different from the scenario in Calgary. Considering the vast distance between locations such as Calgary and Edmonton, or Calgary and Grande Prairie, the Dark Angels travel schedule may not appear as grueling.

Competing against teams with nicknames such as the Crash, Mayhem Reign and Riveters, Gomes has contributed to a Dark Angels squad that has managed to win four of their first seven games in the 2017 campaign. During her inaugural season with the Dark Angels, she has also managed some solid statistical numbers.

Playing both offense and defense, Gomes has displayed some determined durability and welcome versatility, balancing both effectively to emerge as a very dependable player. Although her first season with the Rage was spent as a middle linebacker, she established herself as a gridiron great via the running back position. Maintaining those running back roots, she ranks fourth on the Dark Angels in rushing, providing an added dimension to their running game, complemented by a sterling 5.7 yards per carry.

Defensively, Gomes has displayed some bravura, ranking among the top 20 in tackles, while managing to be one of only six players with a quarterback sack. For a Dark Angels squad looking for a postseason berth, the assiduousness of Gomes represents the possibility of extending their season.

While the WFA goes into a mode of stasis, resuming its season upon the completion of the IFAF Women’s Worlds, Gomes prepares for the milestone of donning the Team Canada colors for the first time in her proud gridiron journey. As Gomes reflects on the Dark Angels season, and the chance to expand her horizons by playing on both sides of the game, the Canadian contingent will benefit by a player who has grown as a competitor and a leader, testament to the ascent of a new generation of Canadian stars.

“I actually enjoy playing both offense and defense. I truly believe it compliments you as an athlete when you play both ways. The family aspect of the team was incredible. I felt welcomed and loved every time I made the drive. It made the travel that much more worth it.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Image supplied by Lisa Gomes

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