Calgary Rage players think of home

As Canada looks to avenge its 2010 gold medal loss against the United States, the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds begins with a backdrop of sadness and tragedy. With two members of the Calgary Rage on the Canadian contingent, they are not just representing their nation, but will shoulder the load of serving as beacons of hope for a city that is much maligned and battered.

Annie Tremblay (picture) and Erin Walton are emblematic of Canada’s great ambition in Finland. While both come from different backgrounds, the saga that lies ahead for this dynamic duo will be one of resilience. Both will also be playing for Alanna Doyle. An emotional captain for the Rage, Doyle was originally named to the 2013 roster but her season was decimated by an injury. Having lost her sister to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Doyle is a courageous, strong woman whose absence in Finland represents the importance of friendship and living in the moment. Just like the city of Calgary, Doyle will recover and return.

Only a few days ago, the Western Women’s Canadian Football League crowned its league champions. After crowning the Saskatoon Valkyries as league champions for the third consecutive time, the league had a newfound objective. With five of its franchises featuring players representing Canada at the Women’s Worlds, the league had a sense of renewal. Looking towards the possibility of a glorious finish in Finland, it would be a landmark moment in the WWCFL and Canadian women’s sports.

Suddenly, that dream is diminished as the struggle for survival in flooded regions of Alberta becomes an all-too difficult reality. With Rage players such as Susie Childress (who played on the 2010 national team) and Kait DiNunzio (who also serves as WWCFL president) having planned to visit Europe and root for their Canadian sisters, their dream was confronted by a natural disaster which served as the backdrop for a prologue of sadness.

From a distance, it would seem like any cheers for the Canadian team will now be outlined against a sullen backdrop. Despite the obstacles that have now presented itself, members of the Rage are emerging as remarkable leaders. Backup quarterback Jordan Chappell opened her apartment to those that needed shelter.

Connie Fekete (a veteran defensive back) showed how her heroics go beyond the field. With her children in tow, an empowered Fekete volunteered and provided comfort and relief to those suffering. As police had worked round the clock, her children showed remarkable maturity by working selflessly to aid people they did not even know a day earlier.

In addition, Fekete turned to social media to inform friends and family which areas were safe, along with announcing school closures. Another teammate, Pam Buccini, also used social media to advise others that she was available if they needed emergency help. Such effort and compassion under dire conditions is what provides the Calgary Rage with its remarkable sense of teamwork and family.

That will be the same sense that Tremblay and Walton will employ when proudly wearing the Canada jersey. Like the New Orleans Saints bouncing back from the horrifying tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and winning a Super Bowl, Tremblay and Walton are playing for something bigger than football. They are playing for the human spirit and the confidence that comes with the character to continue.

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