The air was wet and chilly. There was a fine mist starting to fall and the sky was battleship gray. Just another day in Oregon. In the corner of a field a group of people were slipping into pads and helmets. Some of them awkwardly since for many it was their first time doing this. Veteran players helping the rookies out. Showing them how to make their chin strap fit and snap properly to the helmet. One player didn't yet have a girdle, so what to do? Improvise, tape the pads to the legs.
After a quick lap, (well quick is a relative term with for a lineman) stretching, and then warm up drills. Formation of five equal lines, should be simple, but we are still coming together. A new team, new players, new personalities. We'll get this. The dense Northwest air was quiet except for the alternating tweets of the coach's whistle.
The first day of full contact. Line it up learn how to hit. For some of it's something they can do without thinking, for others it's slow to come because all their lives they've been taught "girls don't hit," "girls don't fight," "girls don't play football." Yes I said girls. Women, strong women, playing a game that for many years and even now some still say we shouldn't play. Well, for this group of 30+ women, we don't buy that.
On this first day of full contact the sounds of pads clacking together, the thump of bodies falling to the ground, and the smell of sweat in the air belonged not to a group of men, but to us, the Portland Fighting Fillies. Although I had to sit it out due to an injury the energy in the air was palatable. It was all I could do not to say tape my leg up, let me get in there. I wanted to hit someone. But my time will come, I need to be healthy to play the whole season. For now I'd have to let the rest of them have all the fun.
We may never fill stadiums, we may never hold a Vince Lombardy trophy, we may never sign million dollar contracts, but we will be loving every minute of our time on the field and will be doing it for the love of the game because this is why we play.
Fan packages available at www.fightingfillies.com!