Xplosive future

Atkins brings promising future for Xplosion

As the Hailfax Xplosion continue to work tirelessly in the goal of assembling a championship team, rookie sensation Brittany Atkins may prove to be one of the pieces of the puzzle. The recipient of the club’s Rookie of the Year Award for 2014, her enthusiasm for the game has injected a sense of excitement, renewing the love of the game among many of her teammates.

Case in point was Terri Smith-Fraser, a veteran on the Xplosion who could not help but beam about Atkins’ contributions. Despite being a smaller player, Atkins character and determination made an impression on Smith-Fraser, who was astonished by her never say die attitude.

“Amazing little person. One of our rookies that totally amazed me this year. So proud of that girl, right from the beginning. In drills, she would be lined up against girls twice her size and never showed fear. She ran straight at them…got crushed. Got back in line and did it over and over again. She blew me away.”

A novice to the sport, Atkins’ initial introduction to the Xplosion and the MWFL was through social media. It would prove to be a life-changing experience, propelling Atkins on the road towards suiting up for the only MWFL-based franchise out of Nova Scotia.

“I had never played or watched football before joining the Xplosion. It was not a popular sport where I grew up and it was not offered as an extra curricular activity. However, I have always been active and I am always willing to try new things.

I saw through social media that the team was looking for new players and no experience was required. I thought it was pretty cool that there was a women’s tackle football league, so I decided to do some more research. The pictures that I saw blew me away! I imagined myself being one of the players and I thought how cool would it be if I actually played! I had built up so much excitement in myself that I had to give it a shot!”

Like so many other rookies this season, Atkins was introduced to the MWFL through its annual jamboree. As the league launched its season with the jamboree, it would prove to be a suitable forum for many of its future stars to get accustomed to the game. Gracing the gridiron with the Xplosion, the feelings of anticipation were quickly met with the thrill of strapping on the helmet and feeling the essence of competition,

“I was both nervous and excited going into my first game. We started off the season with a jamboree. This was a great setting because we got to play the other teams in the league without the pressure of it being a real game. This was my first taste of what to expect, so I felt more comfortable going into the first official game.”

Heading into her first official game against the eventual league champion Lady Gladiators, it would prove to be her “Welcome to the MWFL” moment. Inclement weather, attributed to the skies opening up and releasing its torrential rains, created the setting for a baptism of fire that proved Atkins was worthy of the Xplosion’s colours.

“The first official game was versus the Fredericton Lady Gladiators. The weather probably could not have been worse. It was raining cats and dogs and it was cold. I was soaked before I even stepped on the field.

However, I kept my spirits high and went in with a “Bring it on” attitude. Any nerves that I had quickly went away once the game started. We had practiced several times and I knew what I had to do. We did not win, but I was super pumped up after the game! I was so proud of myself! I could not wait for the next game because I knew I was going to improve.”

While the chapter on Atkins’ rookie season has already closed, she reflects on it with only praise for the game and her teammates. Although Atkins was not immune to the learning curve that comes with being a rookie in any sport, her maturity and positive attitude are the cornerstones towards a promising future,

“As a new player with no knowledge of football, it was intimidating in the beginning. During one of our first practice scrimmages I learned about holding penalties (laughs). However, the team was very supportive bringing me up to speed and acknowledged my improvements. I love the camaraderie that developed and the feeling you get when you’ve done a good job! Also, I feel pretty badass when I get to tell people I play tackle football.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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