Return to Riot a tremendous triumph for Rae Lyn Shaffer

As the 2018 WWCFL championship allowed the Regina Riot to enter dynasty status, one of its significant hallmarks involves the ability to replenish the roster with a remarkable number of young, promising players who hold the potential to constitute an even more prosperous future. Among such players, Rae-Lyn Shaffer is evolving into an impact player on the defensive side of the ball.

In action versus the Winnipeg Wolf Pack (2016 season). Credit: Living Light Photography

Eager to grow into a leadership role, Shaffer’s returning season in Riot colors, competing with Capital Petroleum Service as her season sponsor, was one that saw her very keen to mentor younger players, simultaneously ensuring an enjoyable transition. Although she recognizes that there is still much to learn in her own football odyssey, the opportunity to pay it forward only serves as a positive example which can only contribute to a strong team culture,

“I see myself as a leader for the newer players that do not have much experience but I am still a new player myself and have so much to learn!”

With the Riot opening their postseason against a Western Conference opponent, representing an unprecedented shift in the WWCFL’s structure, the chance to compete an opponent that was unfamiliar offered a feeling of rejuvenation. Discussing how the contest against the Edmonton Storm offered a newness, encompassing a unique opportunity to make history, it was one that saw many new faces rise to the occasion.

Considering how a rash of injuries forced a much different lineup to grace the gridiron for the Riot, the moderate degree of inexperience was outmatched by the enthusiasm. Trampling an ambitious Storm roster in a convincing 45-9 final, it served as a significant season highlight for Shaffer.

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“I enjoyed playing a new team that I had never played before, it was also a good opportunity for newer players to get out on the field!”

Advancing to the championship game against their eternal rivals, the Saskatoon Valkyries, the first-ever All-Saskatchewan Final was a showcase of the league’s signature franchises. Having contributed numerous key tackles in a tight defensive championship game, one which saw the Riot overcome a halftime deficit to emerge victorious in a 14-10 final, it was the type of contest that emphasized Shaffer’s team-first approach.

Despite the fact that Shaffer was not part of the championship roster in 2017, there was a heightened sense of motivation. Recognized with a pair of team honors from the Riot, including the Most Improved Defensive Player of the Year Award, complemented by the team’s Comeback Player of the Year Award, it served as ample motivation. Having already enjoyed a haul of gridiron hardware, the honors bestowed upon her would gain greater value if it included a championship ring.

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Highly respectful of the effort exerted on the road to a title last season, Shaffer was determined to contribute towards glorious results, testament to her approach to game and team alike. To be part of only the second team in WWCFL history to amass back-to-back championships characterizes why Shaffer plays the game.

“When I heard the girls won last year I was so proud of them, unfortunately I was not able to play but being able to come back and win is unspeakable!”

In reflecting on the opportunity to make contributions on defense, emotions of excitement and achievement encompass her sentiments. Having devoted herself throughout the season towards continuously improving her game and sharpening her skills, the championship game served as her finest hour, the sweat and sacrifice yielding tremendous dividends, proud of the triumphant effort.

“It was very exciting, it felt like everything I had worked on all year came together and I was able to show that on the field.”

#ReginaRiot #whywomenplay

:”All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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