Unique Duo

MWFL:  Magnificent mother and daughter duo experience dream season with Capital Area Gladiators

During the landmark tenth anniversary season of the Maritime Women’s Football League, there were many heartwarming stories and events that made it one to remember. From the league’s first indoor game to stars competing at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, ending with a tenth anniversary gala that reunited many of the league’s pioneers, a lifetime of memories were created.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of the season came to a head during the 2013 MWFL championship game. In a meeting of the league’s inaugural franchises, the Saint John Storm and Capital Area Lady Gladiators (representing Fredericton) clashed in SupHer Bowl X.

While Capital Area emerged as league champions, one of its most unique aspects was the mother and daughter duo that contributed to the victory; Tammy and Abigail (Abby) Nash. Their pairing on the Lady Gladiators is a remarkable story as very few parents can truly saw they could call their children teammates.

Harnessing the spirit of Gordie and his sons Mark and Marty in the World Hockey Association and the Griffeys (Ken and Ken, Jr.) in Major League Baseball, Tammy and Abby are part of a unique chapter in women’s sports in Canada. As a side note, the WWCFL’s expansion Okotoks Lady Outlawz also had a mother and daughter duo (Heather Coonfer and Drew Nelson).

Having played at linebacker over a half-decade with the Lady Gladiators, Tammy (who dons number 45) was an All-Star selection at defence in 2008. Tammy’s introduction to football began in an unlikely place,

“My interest came when I was working out at Curves and I had seen an advertisement.  I weighed 325 pounds when I started playing and came to the realization that any size women can play football.

Being a big woman and an older woman, I felt ‘you could be a star’. I had played rugby for St. Thomas University back in the 90s, so I have always been active.”

Wearing number 67, Abby was among the crop of rookies who debuted during the tenth anniversary season. Having watched her mother compete with the red and gold for several years, it was only natural that the interest in following in her footsteps would soon culminate,

“My interest started when my mom began playing about 8 years ago! I always remember being on the sidelines watching my mom or holding the sticks. I remember the last year that the Lady Gladiators won the Maritime championships in Moncton back in 2007. I was thinking to myself, ‘I want to do that one day’ (smiles).”

Having long wished to be able to play alongside her girl for the Lady Gladiators, this past season was a dream come true for Tammy. With great on-field chemistry, the two motivated each other to work harder and excel.

“I had been dreaming for two years about playing with my girl. This year, I pushed her hard to play one year so that I can retire my worn out knees.

We jive so good that I wanted to train and become more fit, so her and I can work towards making Team Canada for the next Women’s Worlds. I had to have an ACL replacement but that will not hold me back. I train six hours a week at the Fredericton Boxing Club.”

With a committed off-season regiment, Tammy transformed herself into a leaner and stronger member of the defensive unit. As the Lady Gladiators faced the absence of four stars (Alex Black, Shot Chatterton, Robyn Neill and Cheryl O’Leary) to the Canadian national team for part of the season, Nash emerged as a solid veteran presence.

“Last season, I weighed 314 pounds and played on the D-line because of my weight. It held me back not because of my ability, but because of my endurance.  Last year, I was the Defensive Line player of the year, but this year I dropped 82 pounds. I played linebacker and excelled in that position.”

Playing on defense with her mother, the experience would prove beneficial for the younger Nash. After a successful rookie campaign, Abby was recognized as an All-Star selection, a great accomplishment for any first-year competitor.

“It was very special! It was my rookie year and I tried very hard to adapt and to act not as a rookie but as a veteran. I did not want to be underestimated.”

While Tammy’s season was temporarily sidelined due to a leg injury, her character and determination paid dividends. Playing through pain, she was inserted as a nose tackle for the championship game against Saint John.

”I believe that I was an asset to the team until I got hurt. Yet, we managed to wrap my leg well enough so I could play in the championship game. In that game, they played me as the power, so I played nose tackle. This was because they had to stop the run up the middle, and I am very capable of stopping anything.”

As the final seconds ticked in SupHer Bowl X, Abby could not have been more proud. The opportunity to win a title in one’s rookie season is always a special and treasured experience. That would increase tenfold as Abby had the opportunity to share that remarkable milestone with her mother, Tammy. It is a moment that shall only strengthen the unbreakable bonds between mother and daughter,

“It meant a lot! We are both on the defensive unit. She is a linebacker and I am a half back so we are close that way. It was an amazing bonding experience. To not only look at her as my mom, but also as my teammate and now my champion.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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