Living for the moment

Chickness lives for the moment as member of  Xplosion

As one of the members of the Halifax Xplosion, Marlene Chickness is determined to turn the fortunes of the franchise around. While the season resulted in a last-place finish, Chickness and her teammates were part of some tremendous milestones.

From the outset, Chickness had the opportunity to participate in the MWFL’s Tenth Anniversary season. As the longest running league for women in Canada, it was a season to celebrate. For Chickness, the chance to be part of that milestone season was a treasured one.

“Getting into football when I did and seeing the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the MWFL was great! Honestly, to be one of the only women in Nova Scotia that can say I do this, breaking down boundaries, there is a pride that goes along with that.

When people find out I play football, I just light up when I tell them how much fun it is and I am constantly recruiting, I want to see this league continue to grow and I hope to be a part of it for a very long time.”

Complementing this was the opportunity to make women’s football history by competing in the first indoor game of the MWFL. Later in the season, Chickness would contribute to a victory over the eventual league champion Capital Area Lady Gladiators. The victory was an empowering event that showed these fearless females that they were capable of competing against the finest teams in the league.

A post-season event would bring with it great opportunities for team building while making new friends in the community. Chickness and several teammates were part of the Halifax Pride Parade. Marching proudly in the parade, the Xplosion were named Best Community Group. For Chickness, the Xplosion are more than just a team or a social athletic gathering, it is truly a family,

“I have pictures of my team all around my desk at work. I cannot imagine not being a part of this!”

Growing up in a smaller area where a sport like football was not an option available to most, her athletic interests generated towards other sports. Spurred on by her brothers, an athletic interest was definitely part of her upbringing.

“I have always been a bit of a jock, I grew up in a family where I am the only girl and there are three boys so there was always hockey, baseball, soccer, etc. when I was younger but I am from a very small town where football does not really exist for men and definitely not for women, so it was not until after high school that football starting to become interesting to me to watch.”

Her initial exposure to women’s football would come through social media. With the support of a friend who would also become her teammate, Chickness took the plunge and became part of Nova Scotia’s only women’s tackle football team. While there are the obligatory bruises that adorn ones physique after a contest, Chickness perceives them as a badge of honour.

“One day I was browsing Halifax social groups on Facebook, when I saw an advertisement for a women’s football information session and it just instantly set off something inside of me. I asked a friend of mine (Alicia Gillis) if she wanted to go check it out and it was like something clicked for me after that session.”

I have played almost every sport and I have to say, nothing compares to the feeling of playing football. There is a rush inside of me before every game that I just purely love. The feeling on a Sunday morning when you wake up and every muscle in your body hurts and you look at those fresh bruises, there is a sense of pride in that.”

While she may be a tough competitor on the football field, there is also a soft and giving side to this athlete. In providing a care and comfort to an ailing friend, it was a very valuable life lesson that made her appreciate her own being. Football would be the remedy to her grief, providing a renewed sense of focus and the opportunity by other strong women.

“The last few years of my life have been quite a struggle personally. I gave up most of my life and took care of someone I loved very much until they eventually passed away from a lengthy struggle with leukemia.

I wear his old hockey jersey as my practice jersey now and the tattoo on my wrist reminds me that life is short and I need to go out and live every minute to make up for his that was cut so short. I became very depressed after losing him and being a part of a team and a sport that I love so much, has reenergized me in a lot of ways. I know that he would be very proud of me for stepping up and trying something new and exciting.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Photo credit: Jason Quackenbush

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

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