National pioneer

Brewer gridiron hero on both sides of the country

Among a group of pioneers who helped contribute to the first decade of MWFL football, Jaclyn Brewer has spent the last two seasons across the country, competing with the Calgary Rage. Despite the adjustment to a new league and a team that was in a rebuilding mode, Brewer, who established herself as a superstar with the Saint John Storm, instantly felt welcomed.

“It is a pretty awesome experience to travel across the country and meet women who share the same love and passion for football as I do. From the moment I walked into my first preseason meeting with the Rage, I was welcomed into a family.

Over the past two seasons I have developed friendships that will last a lifetime. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity play in the Western league and to be a part of this team of talented women and coaches.”

Although the Rage endured a very difficult 2014 campaign, struggling to remain out of the cellar, it was still a season with many important accomplishments. Not only was it a season that saw several former players (Connie Fekete and Erin Walton) join the Rage coaching staff, but Brewer’s presence resulted in strong leadership, helping the club endure a difficult season, while having the opportunity to increase their knowledge of the game from such a prominent figure.

“On the field, I like to lead by example. Even when there is little time left on the clock or I have to chase an opponent the length of the field, I’m going to give it my all until the play ends. Whether it is a game or at practice, supporting my teammates in any way I can is my ultimate goal.”

Competing with the Calgary Rage during a rain-soaked contest

Competing with the Calgary Rage during a rain-soaked contest

Having grown into a leader herself over the course of several seasons, running back Esther Hong’s career grew by a quantum leap during that difficult 2014 season. Some of the valuable lessons learned by the likes of Hong included perseverance and maintaining dignity in the face of losing. In addition, she found inspiration in the humble and quiet demeanor of Brewer.

“Jaclyn has been an amazing addition to our team. She’s like a sniper on the field! Never loses sight of what her job is and she gets it done. She’s an amazing athlete and the most humble person I know.”

Having had the privilege to call Brewer a teammate on two separate occasions, Erin Walton currently plays alongside her with the Calgary Rage. While Walton served in a coaching capacity during Brewer’s first season with the Rage in 2014, she is excited to be back on the gridiron this season. The presence of an individual like Brewer only motivates a world-class talent like Walton to help the Rage excel,

“Jaclyn is the type of player that you wish you could build a whole team around. She is always ready to play, and plays hard, fast and smart whenever she hits the field. She is just simply someone who you want to have as your teammate because she is a great person, always has a team first mindset, and is one hell of a football player.

Even with her living in Edmonton and not able to make all of our practices this season, just having her veteran presence and experience on the field during games is something that has given our defense a lot of confidence.”

Among the accomplishments in Brewer’s storied career, one of the most cherished was the opportunity to suit up for the Canadian national team in the inaugural IIHF Women’s World Championships. Emerging with a silver medal, the chance to contribute to a unique chapter of female sporting history is destined to inspire future generations of women to grace the gridiron.

“Having the opportunity to compete in the inaugural Women’s World Championship as a member of Team Canada is an experience I will never forget. To be able to play a sport I love representing my country; it does not get any better than that.

It was an opportunity to showcase the growth of women’s tackle football in Canada and the skill level of the amazing female athletes that made up the team. It was a defining moment in my athletic career and something that I am very proud of.”

A jubilant Brewer proudly donning the Team Canada jersey at the 2010 IFAF Women's Worlds

A jubilant Brewer proudly donning the Team Canada jersey at the 2010 IFAF Women’s Worlds

Having also played with Brewer on that historic Canadian national women’s team from 2010, Walton reflects on the experience,

“The 2010 Team Canada experience was such an amazing opportunity to meet and create friendships with some of the best women football players from Canada and the bonds I formed with my teammates will last my lifetime. To have Jaclyn join the Rage when she moved out west made me so happy!

Admittedly, we did not spend a ton of time together while on Team Canada in 2010 as we were on different sides of the ball but when she moved here I was very excited to see her out on the field and so happy to have a former Team Canada teammate here to help us grow our team and make it better!”

One of the most unique aspects of her career with the Calgary Rage is the fact that she is not the only player on the current roster with playing experience in the MWFL. When she first donned the Rage jersey in 2014, Brewer found a familiar face in Ferne Lavers, the only other MWFL alum on the roster.

This year, it marked the second straight season in which competitors from the MWFL became Rage converts. A pair of former Halifax Xplosion members, Holly Arthur and Lynsday Corbin called the Rage their now home for the 2015 women’s football season.
As these former MWFL rivals now become teammates in a new part of the country, their Maritime experiences resulted in a strong bond of teamwork and friendship.

“To be able to share the experience with girls from back home is awesome! Ferne, Holly and Lyndsay are talented football players that do a great job representing the Maritime league.

Both the Maritime and Western women’s leagues are very special to me. The MWFL is where I first stepped onto a football field and it will always be home to me. I am very thankful for my Saint John Storm coach Larry Harlow for teaching me how to play this game. Larry gave me my first chance at playing Linebacker and that was the moment when I knew I had found the sport for me.”

Through it all, she still misses several elements of her past life in the Maritimes, especially the unbreakable bonds of family, on and off the field,

“Yet, like any good daughter, I would have to say what I miss most is my mom. She is my biggest fan and supporter. It takes a lot of strength to play tackle football, mental and physical, both of which I learned from her.

And sometimes, I even miss the rainy foggy practices.”

Brewer practicing with the Saint John Storm

Brewer practicing with the Saint John Storm

As one of the most influential coaches in the modern era of women’s football, Harlow was very proud to be able to call Brewer one of his players. In reflecting on her career under his tutelage as the head coach of the Storm, he recalls how she brought determination from the very beginning,

“Jaclyn Brewer is one of those players who “got it from the start”. She played outside LB for us and teams would not run her side as she seldom got beat. Pound for pound one of Canada’s best. We were sorry to see her go west.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, an accomplished player such as Walton has noticed the impact that Brewer has made since she was welcomed into the Rage family,

“The addition of a player like Jaclyn is instrumental to bettering our program because it can be hard to recruit in the Calgary market and she brings that legitimate football pedigree that you need to build sustainable success on and off the field. I even recruited her to play on my touch football team (the Gators) and she was instrumental in helping us get to the touch football league final last year too!”

Experiencing the two different leagues and the friendships forged in both has enriched her career, providing her the rare privilege of having seen the impact of the game on both sides of the country. Having gained great admiration and respect with her teammates from both the Storm and the Rage, she is one of the game’s quiet superstars, but also one of its most essential.

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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