Team community action

Team spirit evident as Rage players participate in Calgary Pride Parade

One of the largest and most popular events in the Calgary social calendar, team members of the WWCFL’s Calgary Rage showed their support by taking part in the Calgary Pride Parade. An event that encompasses the spirit of friendship and understanding, it was also a great bonding experience for the Rage.

An ideal send-off for the summer season, the September 1 event featured tens of thousands of people. After the series of floods which devastated the city weeks before, the spirit of rejuvenation and confidence was evident.

The idea to organize members of the Rage for the parade was Janet Naclia. A defensive end with the Rage, she is also an animal lover, participating with the Calgary Basset Rescue Network. A great leader in the community, Naclia is also a Program Manager with the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association and has also been involved in programs with ACE (Active Creative Engaged) Communities.

“The idea for our participation in the Calgary Pride Parade came from an article that was written about the Xplosion in Halifax. We were inspired by their actions in their community and were quite surprised that we had never thought of participating in our own Pride Parade.

The Calgary Rage is very proud of the diversity of our team.  Our players come from all sorts of different backgrounds and age groups. So participating in something like the Calgary Pride Parade was a natural fit.  Almost 20 Rage players came out to march, which was really a testimony to the unity of our team,” said Naclia.

Starting on Center Street and 8th Avenue South, the route went Westbound towards Shaw Millennium Park, where a street festival awaited the participants. Of note, the Rage were not the only athletes participating in the event. Olympians such as Samuel Edney, Shannon Rempel and Denny Morrison were also there.

For Rage running back Lisa Gomes, the event was a joyous occasion that brought with it a great sense of pride for the team. As the Rage are still one of the newer faces in the Calgary sporting scene, the roars of approval from the people watching made for a pleasant surprise.

“The best part of participating in the Pride Parade was the atmosphere.  I literally saw everyone smiling from ear to ear! Walking in the parade was amazing, I never heard anyone cheer so loud for us football girls before! The love in the air was truly extraordinary and I am looking forward to next year!”

The recognition of the Rage players at the parade was certainly a watershed moment in the club’s nascent history. It was an element that Naclia noticed as well, “I think the most exciting part was the excitement that the crowd showed when they saw our team in the parade.  Awareness of women’s tackle football in Calgary is still growing so this was a huge win!  Hopefully, we get a whole new batch of recruits from the day.”

A great friend for the Rage, superlative photographer Candice Ward was not able to attend the event but she was certainly there in spirit. Earlier in the WWCFL season, Ward took some captivating portraits of the Rage players. Some were expanded into poster size, used by the enthusiastic members of the Rage during the parade route. An unexpected surprise, Ward was proud to see her portraits used in such an important event, “I was excited to see them there with the posters.”

Serving as the parade’s grand marshal was Alberta premier Alison Redford. It would prove to be an historic outing as she was the first premier to march in the Calgary event. With public awareness and acceptance of the LGBT community expanding, Rage linebacker Alyssa Quinney was proud to be among the supporters,

“My favourite part was definitely the energy that comes with any Pride Parade. It is great to be part of something that is so positive and is all about things I personally believe in. I feel like we put ourselves out there as an accepting group of people which is exactly why I am so proud to be on the team.”

One of the rookies this past season with the Rage, running back Esther Estaria Hong found the parade to be a memorable event, enhanced by the feeling of bonding with her teammates. As a rookie, Hong understood this past season what it meant to be in a different situation yet accepted and welcomed into a great community of new teammates and friends.

“Walking in the pride parade was an awesome experience and doing it with my teammates by my side made it all the more memorable. It definitely helped to strengthen our bond as a team because coming from different backgrounds and lifestyles we can still come together to celebrate and support each other.”

While the parade attracts many different people, it is also one of its most remarkable qualities. As the WWCFL features players from a wide age group (18-50), along with occupations ranging from housewife and student to lawyer and accountant, it is this diversity which makes women’s football so special. The parade, like women’s football, represents the ideal that all can be welcomed and accepted. Those core values helped to make it an enjoyable afternoon for defensive back Connie Fekete,

“The parade was an incredible experience – so many people from so many different walks of life – professionals, families, athletes, young and old… and the atmosphere was absolutely joyous. We are already planning to participate next year!”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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