Spirit of motherhood a defining characteristic on Okotoks Lady Outlawz

As the Western Women’s Canadian Football League enters its third campaign, the Okotoks Lady Outlawz are eager to prove that they belong. A strong element of leadership and character on this proud franchise emanates from the fact that many of the players on the franchise are mothers.

The element of motherhood is one that has helped to define the team and provide it with a strong sense of unity. It has also had a strong impact on the coaching staff. Sandy Dielissen noticed that the impact that family has had on the team was not lost on head coach Barry Hunter.

“Our coach has stated from day one that we are now a football family, and that is how we will be successful. This is the same philosophy that the boys learn when they play football.”

Sherri Toews believes that the presence of motherhood on the Lady Outlawz is essential for team chemistry. Her son, along with the sons of Lady Outlawz teammates Sandy Dielissen, Tammy Holunga, and Jodie Ward all compete at the junior level in Okotoks.

“We all understand what each other has gone through and the sacrifices we have made over the years in order to look after our kids. Many of us gave up careers, sports, and social activities for years in order that our kids would have the opportunity to pursue their interests.”

“Now that our kids are older and more independent, we moms are excited to be able to pursue our own passions and focus on ourselves again. It has created a real camaraderie and sense of accomplishment for all of us moms.  Now it is our turn.”

Like many women in the WWCFL, Toews had an athletic background in another sport. While many women in the growing league have been involved with basketball, hockey, rugby, Toews competed on the soccer pitch.

“I played soccer most of my life and loved that sport, but as I got older I needed a new challenge. I have enjoyed learning football over the years and cheering on my son at his games. When I heard the Outlawz were being formed in town, I knew this was the opportunity I had been looking for to learn something new and meet a fantastic group of people. I can’t wait for the season to start.”

As a single mother of four, Dannee-Lee Barr finds inspiration in the fact that many of her teammates also have children. The common ground between Barr and her teammates is one that enhances the experience of competing.

“I think it is fantastic that there are moms on here, it is inspiring. Just because we are mothers, it does not mean we are dead (laughs). It shows that anything is possible!”

For Barr, the support of her family is a crucial and comforting element in deciding to undertake this opportunity. With a son that also plays minor football, it is a great point of pride.

“My older kids and family babysit a lot for me and I am grateful for that. I have never done anything like this. They all support it and think it is such a great thing.  My son plays second year bantam football and he is so pumped his mom plays too (smiles).  It takes a lot of commitment and sacrifices. I would not change a thing!”

As the moms of the Lady Outlawz have several sons that compete on the gridiron, the sport has served as an ideal way for families and friends to bond together.  Sandy Dielissen reflects on the way that the sport of football has helped the mothers to cultivate respect and create a strong team culture.

“With all of us now travelling down the same road, I think it has taught us all to respect each other and the game itself. Football is a lot of fun but it is a hard enduring game. I believe when we wear that “MOM” hat, we never fully realized just how tough it really was. Now, we have switched hats, and we appreciate one another’s hard work, dedication and commitment to the sport.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

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