Twelve and strong

Fillmore adds to her gridiron legacy with twelfth MWFL season

Having played in the Maritime Women’s Football League since their inaugural campaign in 2004, Kara Fillmore’s storied gridiron career could be defined by one word; pioneer. With a football resume that boasts a series of remarkable accomplishments, Fillmore certainly is worthy of the moniker “living legend”. As a competitor for the Saint John Storm, she is a six-time MWFL champion, recognized five times as a league All-Star, and was bestowed the honor of a place on the MWFL’s All-Decade team, respectively.

Heading into her twelfth season of MWFL football, she will be counted upon to be an even bigger leader for the Saint John Storm. With the Moncton Vipers having returned to the league after an absence in 2014, the level of competition promises to be even stronger in 2015.

Considering that the Storm are also one of the league’s signature franchises, it only adds to the prestige of Fillmore’s career. The reality is that Fillmore is among a pioneering group that shall eventually become extinct. As every season of MWFL progresses, there will be fewer and fewer veterans from that inaugural season still gracing the gridiron. Therefore, the chance for fans and players alike to see her grace the gridiron is an opportunity to pay tribute to her dedication and pioneering contributions.

In addition, her remarkable gridiron exploits stretch beyond MWFL circles. In 2010, she was part of football history as she participated in the inaugural IFAF Women’s World Football Championships. As a member of the Canadian contingent that garnered a silver medal, she was the starting Guard on the Offensive Line.

Two years later, Fillmore would add to her historic legacy. As a member of Team Atlantic (an amalgam of players from the MWFL’s New Brunswick and Nova Scotia-based clubs), she participated in the first-ever Canadian Women’s Nationals. Although Team Quebec dominated en route to the title, a greater victory was accomplished for Fillmore and Team Atlantic, as it marked a special opportunity for MWFL rivals to call each other teammates.

With ambitions to be part of Team New Brunswick, Fillmore is hoping to return to the 2015 edition of the Canadian Women’s Nationals. Heading into the New Brunswick training camp, those who are not familiar with Fillmore may be shocked to hear others refer to her as “George.” Back in 2004, it was the name which adorned to the back of her jersey. Quickly, it would become Fillmore’s nickname, a sobriquet out of levity, which would help break the ice with new players for a decade to come.

Perhaps the most endearing quality of Fillmore’s career is the fact that she gives her time to coach atom football. Emulating Larry Harlow’s strong leadership and remarkable coaching skills, she has raving roamed the sidelines since 2010, having coached both boys and girls, ranging in ages 10-11. This year, she will be ascending to a Junior Girls program, adding a new dimension to her coaching career.

Serving as an assistant coach with the Simonds Stomp, it is a Football New Brunswick-designated program for girls 14-17, with six players on each side. Many of these players that Fillmore shall coach may very well be the next generation of competitors gracing the MWFL gridiron.

Quite possibly one of the biggest influences on her gridiron career (as a player and as a coach) is legendary Maritime football coach Larry Harlow. The most successful head coach in the history of the Saint John Storm; he was also part of history as the head coach for Team Canada 2010. Highly familiar with her dedication to the game, defined by an amazing work ethic, Harlow remarks on her impact,

“Kara has always been a pleasure to coach; I think I could count on one hand the number of practices she has missed since 2004. She plays O-line and D-line both very effectively and is a mentor to new players.

In the fall she coaches Atom football and the kids love her. She has been able to pass along what she has learned as a player to the younger players and enjoyed an Atom championship win in 2014, her first as a coach. She loves the game and always plays with respect.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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