Superstars of Maritime Women’s Football ready to compete at international level

As the 2013 IFAF Women’s World Football Championships in Vantaa, Finland is about to begin, the Canadian contingent will feature eight superstars from the Maritime Women’s Football League. Celebrating its tenth anniversary season, seeing their stars compete at the international level is a great point of pride.

One of the most decorated stars in the history of the MWFL, Alex Black is the only MWFL player on this year’s team that competed on the 2010 team. The starting quarterback for the Capital Area Lady Gladiators, she will be competing as a wide receiver for the Canadian squad. At the 2010 worlds, her kickoff return yardage led all players.

Kristen Chatterton and Emma Hicks are two other Lady Gladiators competing for Canada. Originally named to the reserve roster, this four-time MWFL All-Star once competed with the Moncton Vipers. The only woman to have played in both the MWFL and the WWCFL, Emma Hicks is a great competitor. She is hoping to make more history at Finland by helping Canada to its first gold medal.

Having established herself as one of the superstars for the Saint John Storm, Trina Graves is proud to be donning the Canadian colors at the Women’s Worlds. She will be joined by teammate Lori Boyles, who have helped Saint John to a current first place standing in the 2013 MWFL season. Graves’ contributions in transforming the Storm into a dynasty will one day provide great lore to the next generation of MWFL players. When asked what it will take to win a gold medal, she replied,

“Mental toughness, the ability to make faster adjustments, and a take no prisoners’ attitude. We need to form those connections and bonds on the field. It is those bonds that teams spend seasons making in only the week before the tournament when we get to practice and spend time together.”

Two members of the defending MWFL champion Moncton Vipers were named to Team Canada. Marie-Noelle Beaulieu, who is also a competitive athlete on the CrossFit circuit will be patrolling the defensive backfield.

Tara Keohan, an MWFL All-Star, is excited at the opportunities on-hand at the 2013 Womens’ Worlds. While the gold medal is the end objective, Keohan is quick to acknowledge the occasion to learn from others on the Canadian roster. As the team also features competitors from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the prospect to improve her game is of great benefit.

“What I love about football is there is always something new to learn or something enhance about your game. What I appreciate about playing for Team Canada, is that I will have the opportunity to learn from other athletes, learn from the coaches and to improve my game.”

Named to the MWFL Tenth Anniversary Team, offensive lineman Robyn Neill is excited to be competing for the Canadian contingent. Having joined the MWFL as a teenager, Neill is one of the league’s living legends.

Competing with the Capital Area Lady Gladiators, Neill is ready to make the community of Fredericton, New Brunswick proud. One of the building blocks for a Canadian team looking to win the gold in 2013, her presence will likely be felt at the 2017 Worlds also,

“Making Team Canada means the world to me – something I have only dreamed about. So much hard work to get this far – I look forward to the next leg of this journey!”

One of Neill’s teammates and mentors on the Lady Gladiators is Cheryl O’Leary. Having made her mark in the MWFL, O’Leary is hoping to advance her career as a coach. With the sport of women’s football still looking to develop strong female coaches, the 2013 Worlds could help turn O’Leary into a coaching pioneer,

“I have also been invited to continue to develop my coaching skills and travel with the team to the 2013 WWC as a Mentor Coach. I have been paired up with the Special Teams Coach, Olivier Eddie while we are in Finland. The talented Coaching Staff and team of 45 players has recently been finalized and announced. Preparations for the 17-day trip include a week-long training camp.”

Although this Canadian contingent is different from the first that competed in 2010, there is respect for the team that came before. MWFL players from the valiant 2010 squad, like Lisa Harlow, Michelle Young-Mather, Alanna Waberski and Lisa Rogers make today’s stars proud to represent the MWFL. In addition, these pioneers help to renew the spirit of competing for Canada as the green plains in Finland will write the next chapter in the energizing narrative of women’s football.

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