Mallory Starkey sensational in return to offense for Regina Riot

Photo courtesy of Mallory Starkey (credit:

Among the many intriguing subplots that defined an unforgettable season for the Regina Riot, culminating with their second WWCFL championship, Mallory Starkey emerged as one of the players most inexorably linked with said season.

With a new head coach in Olivier Eddie, Starkey was asked to make the return to her gridiron roots, competing on the offensive side of the game. Considering that Starkey had been a member of the defensive unit since 2013, it was a move that represented more than a significant commitment to her team.

Such a move saw Starkey emerge as a perfect fit in her return to the offense, helping to shape the mythology of such a legendary season. Placing faith in the decision of her coaching staff, Starkey brought about a comforting presence on offense, while unselfishly taking on a new role that saw her viscerally leave behind her defensive sisters,

“When I began playing for the Regina Riot I was a running back/fullback. Prior to joining the Riot I had played in several different positions on both sides of the ball and I really loved everything I did.

Four years ago, I was asked to play defense and gladly made the shift. Following last season I was asked if I would be willing to return to offense. I love every aspect of the game and I trusted that the changes the coaching staff wanted to make were in the best interest of the team.

Trusting my coaches, I agreed to make the change for the team. It was tough to leave the defense because I loved the women I played with but I was also excited to play offense again with some of the same group I had played with 4 years ago.”

Taking on the running back role with an essence of exhilaration, it brought a unique awareness of what makes Starkey such an unselfish player. Ignoring any statistical numbers, she philosophically looks at every effort exerted in order to ensure a play, and subsequently, an offensive drive, is executed successfully.

“Player success, especially as a running back, depends so much on every part of the offense. I think of a leader as someone who works hard on and off the field to do all they can to make the team successful. A leader is someone that encourages others to do and be their best and helps to develop their teammates. I hope that I was seen as a leader on the team.”

While Starkey certainly brought a reassuring presence on offense, rekindling the initial motivations from her rookie season, there was another facet that brought with it a fascinating reality. Placed in the backfield with Carmen Agar, it was an opportunity to reunite two highly motivated athletes continuously committed to on-field excellence.

Their familiarity enabled a sterling on-field rapport, both embedded in the Riot’s offensive attack. Undoubtedly, the extension of their collective efforts, dating back to when they first played together on offense, proved to be untarnished by the passage of time. Instead, there was a sense of renewed purpose, their mutual respect precipitating the admirable team culture that propelled the Riot back into the championship conversation,

“When I first joined the Riot, I played running back with Carmen. We made a great team back then and I think we were able to continue to be a great team this season.

Over the years we had developed an understanding of each other and we still have that understanding. I knew I could always rely on Carmen to carry the ball if I couldn’t and she knew I was there if she needed a break.

I loved being in the backfield with Carmen, not only because I knew I could trust her, but because we both knew we had an amazing offensive line that we could depend on, a quarterback that made great reads, and receivers that we could trust to execute plays.”

Photo courtesy of Mallory Starkey (credit:

In reflecting on the championship season, Starkey actually provides an element of surprise. Although the Riot had shut out their eternal rivals the Saskatoon Valkyries in their first meeting of the season, subsequently, the first time that the green and white ever endured such a blanking, that was not what she viewed as a turning point.

The moment during the season where Starkey felt that winning the championship was a real possibility actually took place following a loss. With the Valkyries seeking retribution in their second meeting of the season, pummeling the Riot, Starkey perceived a unique element of character on her team.

Instead of indulging in sorrow, ready to slip into decimation, the loss was a concrete moment, displaying an element of accountability and devotion that saw the team unified, destined to create more favorable conditions. With all players taking their share of the burden, newly aligned with focus and purpose, it was a crucial element towards what Starkey observed as a defining moment,

“Every season I believe that the Regina Riot has the ability to win the championship. We have so many people in our program that help to set us up for success as a team. We have great coaches, board members, trainers, staff, and players that work hard to get ready for every season.

This season, we worked together as a team to get better. In practices, offense and defense worked hard to make each other better and our coaches pushed us to be our best as players.

The moment I felt that we could win the championship was actually after we lost to Saskatoon in our second meeting this season. There was no blame placed or excuses made for the loss.

We understood that the loss belonged to the team as a whole, not just offense or just defense. Along with that we never doubted ourselves. The loss did not define us or our ability. As a team, we refocused and adapted to the challenges we faced in the game and moved forward together.”

With a convincing victory against the upstart Calgary Rage, the outcome decided by half-time, it was a victory that only furthered the continued growth of the Riot’s gridiron legend. In addition, such a win allowed an eminent competitor such as Starkey the opportunity to be amalgamated into a special sorority, one personified by being associated with both of the Riot’s championship teams.

“Every year we have a different team, players change position, players retire, and new players join the team. Winning the first championship was an amazing moment for our team and the program and it paved the way for following years. Winning the second title proves that the Regina Riot is continuing to grow and develop as an elite program.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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