Q&A with Breanne Ward from the Denver Gold Rush (WFLA)

What positions do you play? Defensive Tackle/Long Snapper

What teams have you played for? Manitoba Fearless (2012-2013), Winnipeg Wolfpack (2014-2019), Mustang Majors (1 year), Team Manitoba (prior to Nationals), Team Canada (2017)

When did you start playing football? I started in 2012 with the Manitoba Fearless when I was recruited at a Bomber Game.

Why did you choose football? I always loved watching football, but it was always engrained as a “man’s sport” so I didn’t ever think I could play until I was recruited, I really didn’t know that there was teams in Manitoba as there was little exposure and it is not covered in the news. After my first practice I was basically hooked. I felt like I had finally found “my” sport. Being someone who is big and tall, football was a space where my size and aggressiveness was celebrated and being thick and strong was an asset. It really switched my view of myself and I started to focus more on what my body could do in terms of strength versus fixating losing weight. Also, football is such a complex game and extremely challenging both mentally and physically. Everyone on the field has to deliver on their responsibilities at the same time to achieve one goal, play after play for success. It really teaches you how to trust others and hold each other up when facing challenges.

Do you have any pregame rituals/superstitions? I’m pretty anal when it comes to my pregame ritual haha. Literally every pregame morning goes like this: I wake up, take a shot of turmeric/lemon juice, make coffee, eat protein pancakes, and shower and get ready. I’ll only ever have my hair straight, I will always wear long sleeves under my jersey no matter how hot it is and white cleats. I will always have a tan – I cannot play properly without a tan (OD can attest to this from Team Canada when I forced her to come with me on our free time to get a tan – sorry girl!). Everyone I’ve played with knows I show up to games with a full face of makeup. I always have and this will never change. I need contour, and my eyebrows to be done, and usually my nails done. I sound like a total Diva and I’m okay with that because if you look good, you feel good, and I’ll still lay you out on the field.

What has been your biggest moment on the gridiron to date? (Besides signing with the WFLA) I think the biggest moment was stepping onto the field during worlds for the Gold Medal Game against USA. Until you’ve worn red and white and represented your country, you really don’t understand the overwhelming sense of pride that you feel. Also, after that game OD’s dad gave me one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received about how I played and that was the moment that I thought to myself that I had accomplished what I came there to do as an athlete.

How did you feel the moment you signed to play in the WFLA? It felt very surreal. I feel like I was in a bit of a haze to be honest through this whole process because I could hardly believe it was happening. Hannah and I called each other on Zoom and we signed together. It was a really exciting moment that I was happy to share with her.

What are your goals while in the WFLA? A) Sacks, tackles, turnover on downs. I really just want to be the best player I can be and be a-part of taking our team to the Diamond Bowl. I have some specific numbers I want to reach in terms of the game and I’ll do everything I can to reach those.

B) Outside of football I hope that my platform grows and I can use it to be a voice in a space that others may not have the opportunity. I would hope that I can encourage female athletes to play male dominant sports and be a role model for females that look different than those outside our cultural norm. I really just want to be someone that I would have looked up to when I started playing football.

How do you think this league will impact young females? I think it is drastically going to change the mindset of young females in terms of what their goals and dreams are. For the longest time tackle football for female athletes was only recreational. We pushed boundaries and over the last few years we have seen the girls U18 provincials come to Manitoba and Sask, females making male CIS teams, and now we have the WFLA. Young females can develop see all of their hard work pay off and strive to be professional athletes. Little boys get to wake up every day and dream about making it to the NFL, girls now have that and we are so thankful to Lupe and everyone involved with the WFLA for making this dream come true.

Do you have any favourite professional football players? James Harrison, Aaron Donald, Kawann Short, Cam Newton #KeepPounding

Do you have any advice for young girls that may be thinking about playing tackle football? Just try it. Don’t hesitate. Don’t listen to anyone that tells you that it is too dangerous, you are too small, too big, it’s not a females sport, don’t listen to any of that and start playing. Football is for every type of athlete. Football is where you learn about yourself, you learn about what it truly means to be on a team. It will challenge you in ways you never thought possible and it will quite literally change your life. You won’t understand until you play but it is one of the best experiences you will have. Whether your goals are to make it pro or to commit to the lifestyle of an athlete, just try it for a season. It is such a rewarding sport and we (as veterans) want to watch your development and cheer you on long after we hang up our cleats.

 

 

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

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