RIOT VANQUISH VALKS; PREPARE FOR HOME OPENER

The Regina Riot Road Trip (sponsored by Moose Mountain Bus Lines) continued this past weekend as the team rolled into Saskatoon to challenge their provincial rival Saskatoon Valkyries. It was the first meeting between the two teams this season, and the stakes were high. The result could end up playing a significant factor in which team finishes first in the Prairie Conference this season.

Things got off to a quick start, with Riot quarterback Aimee Kowalski connecting with receiver Jenna Koller for a 60-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. The Valkyries struck back almost immediately with a return touchdown on the ensuing kickoff.

That would be the only scoring that the Valkyries could muster on this night. The Riot defense put the clamps down on Saskatoon all evening, not allowing their offense to put points on the board throughout the duration of the contest. The Riot would score three more touchdowns during the game, leading to a final score of 28 – 7.

“We were quite pleased to head back home with the win and a 21 point advantage in what we like to call our home-and-home series” said Head Coach Olivier Eddie after the game. “Being in the driver seat means that the odds are in our favour to host multiple playoff games.”

The strong defensive showing by the Riot is promising following an offseason scheme change on that side of the ball. Particularly impressive was the play of safety Mira Trebilcock, who Eddie pointed out played sideline-to-sideline in her efforts to defend the pass.

But just because the Riot won their first match up with the Valkyries does not guarantee future success. Last year the Riot were also successful in defeating Saskatoon on the road, but failed to capitalize and lost the return matchup when they hosted the Valks later that season.

“We need to avoid complacency” said Eddie afterwards. “We have a good football team but in this league you need to be great to win it all. We have to keep our foot on the gas pedal.”

The Riot will have their next opportunity to put the pedal to the metal in just over a week when they play host to their home opener against the Winnipeg Wolfpack. In the meantime, the players and coaches will have a break from game action as they enjoy their single bye week of the season.

The Riot home opener against Winnipeg will take place on Sunday, May 27th at Mosaic Stadium. Kickoff is at 2pm. Tickets are available at the door.

RIOT WIN IN WINNIPEG; ON TO SASKATOON

The Regina Riot opened up their regular season schedule this past weekend by traveling to Winnipeg to play the Manitoba Fearless. The two teams are familiar with each other already this year, having met the weekend prior in Regina in a preseason game. The Riot were able to come away with a narrow victory in that contest, winning by a final score of 22 – 17.

That even level of play continued throughout the first quarter of action in Winnipeg on Saturday, as the Riot and Fearless went into the first quarter break tied up 7-7. It wasn’t until the second quarter where the Riot were able to pull ahead and never look back. This was thanks in large part due to the play of quarterback Aimee Kowalski. She would throw four touchdowns in the second quarter, and follow that up with one more in the second half as she led the Riot to a victory with a final score of 56 – 14.

“We started a bit slow on offense,” explained Head Coach Olivier Eddie after the game, “but we never really doubted that we would be able to bounce back. Aimee went 9 of 10 throwing the ball in the second and third quarters and put up 5 TDs. Our run game also kicked it into gear and we ended the game with 8 different ball carriers combining for 230 yards on the ground.”

It was an especially impressive outing for the Regina Riot’s young receivers, as second year player Jenna Koller hauled in three touchdowns and third year player Hope Jordens caught one as well. Fourth year player Rachelle Smith caught Kowalski’s fifth touchdown, and reigning Team MVP Carmen Agar was able to score one on the ground.

The Regina Riot defense, which was revamped in the offseason, also played well.

“We executed our new defense fairly well,” said Eddie. “We expected to make a few mistakes early on, but I’m proud of the group and how we progressed throughout the game.” The Riot’s stop unit also contributed offensively, scoring two touchdowns off of turnovers.

With their first victory of the season in the books, the Riot now turn their attention toward their first matchup of the season against their provincial rival Saskatoon Valkyries. The Riot holds a slight 5-4 record advantage against the Valkyries over the past three seasons, but the team knows that won’t help them this weekend.

“We know how good they are,” said Eddie when asked about the upcoming game. “This rivalry game could go anyway. It’s our job to make sure that we are prepared for the challenge.”

The Riot & Valkyries will square off in Saskatoon on Saturday, May 12th at Griffiths Stadium. Kickoff is at 8:00pm.

PRESEASON RECAP/WEEK 1 PREVIEW

PRESEASON GAME RECAP

The Regina Riot kicked off their first home preseason game in a number of years this past Sunday when they hosted the Manitoba Fearless at Leibel Field. The final score was closer than Riot fans may be used to, but the home team still managed to come out on top 22 – 17.

“The Fearless came out very strong” said Riot Head Coach Olivier Eddie after the game. “Kudos to them for the absolutely great match.”

Preseason is a time to evaluate the roster, and Coach Eddie took advantage by rotating most of his players onto the field at various points throughout the game.

“Preseason games give us the opportunity to get some new players valuable game experience,” said Coach Eddie. “It also allows us to evaluate our new athletes. Kristina McFadden is one of these new athletes that stood out to us on Sunday.”

It was also the first opportunity for the Regina Riot to implement their new defensive scheme in a game situation.

“We have a very different look on defense this season, and going through this first preseason game was an important first step” said Eddie.

At the game’s conclusion, Regina Riot WR Hope Jordens and Manitoba Fearless RB Hallie Eggie were named the Hillberg & Berk Players of the Game and each walked away with a new pair of Sparkle Ball Earrings.

 

HUMBOLDT BRONCOS TRIBUTE

Prior to kickoff of Sunday’s preseason game, a moment of silence was held at midfield in memory of those affected by the Humboldt Broncos tragedy of this spring. The Regina Riot have dedicated their 2018 season in memory of those who lost their lives in the accident, and the team will be taking donations to support the Humboldt community throughout this season.

 

WEEK 1 PREVIEW

The regular season kicks off this weekend, when the Riot will be making a trip to Winnipeg to play the Manitoba Fearless once again. It will be the one & only time the two teams meet in the regular season.

“Starting the regular season with a win is important to us,” stated Coached Eddie. “Manitoba proved to us this week that they will be a tough opponent, and we will need to be at our best.”

The regular season opener will take place in Winnipeg at Investor’s Group Field on Saturday, May 5th. Kickoff is at 7:30pm.

10 QUESTIONS WITH MIRA TREBILCOCK

In the lead up to the 2018 regular season, we’ll be taking a closer look at certain Regina Riot players both on-and-off the field in our new series, 10 Questions. In our final instalment, we learn more about defensive back Mira Trebilcock.

 

  1. You are a hockey player who decided to start playing football. What was it about football that made you want to pursue that as well?

I had spent 4 years in the Chicago, Illinois attending university and playing NCAA hockey and soccer. Upon graduating it became clear that there are very few opportunities for women to continue competing in elite sports, especially in Western Canada. I was excited to try football, a staple within the American culture, yet something I never thought I would have the opportunity to play. Originally, I joined the Riot to learn a new sport and to be able to compete at an elite level again. I’ve since learned that football is one of the most dynamic sports, from the depth of the playbook to the breadth of the players who play the game. Moreover, I am very proud to be a member of the Riot, as female athletes I think it’s part of our responsibility to serve as positive ambassadors and leaders for young females in our community. Young girls can grow up watching and learning that their passion for sport is encouraged, even stereotypical ‘male’ sports like football.

 

  1. What is the biggest difference between playing hockey and playing football?

On the surface, almost everything is different. After all, one sport is played on ice and the other is played on a big grassy field – with the most obvious difference being the fact that football requires hitting, something that is penalized in women’s hockey. But, as I continue learning more about football some striking similarities have emerged. Hockey and football both require spacial recognition, anticipation, physicality and aggressiveness. Players on both sides of the ball have certain responsibilities depending on their respective positions and strategic efforts are used to score and prevent the other team from scoring points.

 

  1. You’ve been starting at safety for the Riot for a number of years. What is the biggest challenge of playing the safety position?

I am very fortunate that I had the opportunity to play safety in my very first season in 2015 and continue in that same position 3 years later. It’s a fun position. I think the biggest challenges are awareness and adaptability. Awareness of what’s happening on the field, with the opposition and with your own defence – and then being vocal about it. Everyone is in front of you – you’ve got to be confident and knowledgeable about what you’re seeing. No matter the defensive scheme, being smart and athletic has certainly made it easier to adapt if a play call is missed or something unexpected happens – as a safety you can be an athlete and make plays. The more a safety knows about the game, including technical terms, coverages, technique – even overall about positions of our team defence, from the linewomen, linebackers and defensive backs – the more reliable she can be, and the more likely she is to help her team succeed.

 

  1. Tell me about an interception of yours, or perhaps a near miss, that sticks out in your memory since joining the Riot.

There are 2 that stick out:

One was a terrible miss, in the final regular season game against the Wolf Pack in 2015, their quarterback threw a deep ball and I was in perfect positioning, literally all I had to do was catch it. Instead, the ball rattle first off my hands, then head, then chest and even feet – it hit every part of my body. We were already up a considerable amount at that point in the game, so it provided some comedic relief for everyone, but it certainly made me practice my catching a little more, which has helped in bringing in more interceptions since.

The second was an interception against the Fearless in a conference semi-final game in 2015. The play before the interception we had executed a ‘spin’ on defence perfectly resulting in a big hit and some yards lost for their offence. The next play they threw it up and I was able to bring it in and return it in for a pick-6 and the first touch-down of the game/of the 2015 playoffs. I thought it helped me redeem the comedy of that ball hitting every part of my body.

 

  1. If you could only pick one player as the funniest on the entire team, who would it be?

There are a lot of different personalities on our team that contribute to the unique dynamic we have. I always look to Stacey, Turner or Jenna to keep things light or to get a good laugh in at practice, even between plays.

 

  1. Explain to me the camaraderie and friendship that develops on a team like the Riot.

Winning teams have a well-honed sense of camaraderie that helps team members read one another’s signals, move as one, and watch each other’s back. Players on the Regina Riot are very welcoming, and happy to help one-another other learn the game and grow as players. This attitude helps to cultivate a strong sense of affiliation and pride, which ultimately makes team members of the Riot feel a shared sense of commitment and connection – it’s a culture we want to continue building stronger every year. My teammates and coaches have become some of my closest friends, leaders and mentors. We joke around that the Riot is your second family, because during season you spend so much time together. I think when the Riot is the most successful is when we share a deep sense of affiliation and friendship on and off the field. The more people value their relationships with one another, the better they will perform for one another and thus the team as a whole.

 

  1. How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t playing hockey or football?

When I am not playing football or hockey I work as a Development Officer for the Hounds at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, SK. I help to build and facilitate the relationship between the high school and its vast community to help fundraise for the college. I am also working to complete my Master of Science in Sport Management at the University of Regina. I am a huge advocate for athletics and growing the game, especially for female athletes so I try to help out with the Female Midget AAA hockey team at Notre Dame any chance I can. With a hectic schedule, I do value any chance I get to spend with those closest to me, my family and friends -whether it’s a weekend brunch or catching up while playing on the ODR.

  1. What is your favourite moment in a Regina Riot jersey?

June 28, 2015.

 

  1. How has playing for the Riot helped you grow as a person?

Being part of a team is about being a part of something bigger than yourself. As much as I love to win and simply be competitive, it’s the notion of being able to challenge myself in a different area of my life, and make myself just a little bit uncomfortable that has provided me with great opportunities to develop on and off the field. Playing for the Riot has been a privilege that has positively impacted many areas of my life, helping me grow as an athlete, a professional and a steward within the community.

 

  1. Where do you think the Regina Riot are headed in 2018 and beyond?

The Regina Riot have seen immense growth, even throughout the three, going on four years I have been involved with the organization. Winning two championships certainly helps to establish the success of the program but it also cultivates a culture that people want to be a part of. It’s helped us recruit more athletes and more coaches with very diverse and experienced backgrounds who share the same values and goals that we aim to fulfill. It’s helped us form partnerships with medical staff and local organizations like Ovarian Cancer Canada, Mr. Mikes, AGT Foods and Evolution Fitness.

Through these partnerships and our involvement in the community, the Regina Riot is certainly becoming a familiar name that carries very positive connotations. The Riot acts as a powerful platform that unifies tenacity and drives action for female athletes in a sport that shares the exact same rules, regulations and equipment as the male version of the sport – the only difference is the gender of the athletes who play it. I think the Riot drives action for gender empowerment while celebrating the social and cultural achievements of athletes, coaches, business people and students within our community. I believe there is a very bright future ahead for the team and all those involved with it – beginning with a back-to-back championship in 2018.

Riot Offseason Recap/Preseason Preview

The Regina Riot’s season officially kicks off this weekend, so what better time to take a look at the offseason that was? We caught up with Head Coach Olivier Eddie to get his comments on a few key aspects of the offseason, as well as give his thoughts on the upcoming home preseason game with the Manitoba Fearless.

 

PLAYER RECRUITMENT

“We faced a significant challenge in the offseason as we welcomed a large group of first-time players. That said, our recruiting class is very athletic and the rate at which they’ve been able to pick things up has been better than anticipated. You can expect to see some fresh faces at key positions this year; most notably with the defensive back group. Both Kathryn Neigum and Michaela Sykora have been battling back and forth for playing time; they should make an immediate difference for our team this season.”

 

NEW COACHES

“We are welcoming some talented new coaches this season, including former Team Saskatchewan and Team Canada player and Regina Riot alumni Claire Dore. Joining her on the staff and new to the organization are experienced football coaches Zach Schmidt, Rob Hartman and Addison Richards. These additions will bring new perspectives and new life to our staff.”

 

TEAM CHEMISTRY

“We have a core group of veterans that have bought in to our team culture and philosophy. For one reason or another, the team seems to have gelled more over the winter months than teams in years past have. We are firm believers in the importance of team culture and know that it provides us with a firm backbone.”

 

PRESEASON PREVIEW

“We host the Manitoba Fearless in preseason action on April 29th. The Fearless have been busy recruiting and we have noticed that multiple ex-flag football players have joined their team. We expect them to bring speed and athleticism to their team but look forward to the challenge.”

 

That home preseason game against the Manitoba Fearless takes place at Leibel Field on Sunday, April 29th at 5:00pm. Tickets will be available at the door.

RIOT TO HOST 2018 WWCFL CHAMPIONSHIP

It was announced this week that the Regina Riot would be hosting the 2018 WWCFL Championship. The game will take place on Sunday, June 24th at Mosaic Stadium. Kickoff will be at 3pm.

This announcement happens to coincide with a shift in the WWCFL playoff which makes a championship game against provincial & conference rival Saskatoon a distinct possibility for the first time in history. The playoff schedule will be structured like this:

 

ROUND 1

1st Seed Prairie Conference vs. 4th Seed Prairie Conference

2nd Seed Prairie Conference vs. 3rd Seed Prairie Conference

 

1st Seed Western Conference vs. 4th Seed Western Conference

2nd Seed Western Conference vs. 3rd Seed Western Conference

 

ROUND 2

Top Seed Prairie Conference vs. Lowest Seed Western Conference

Top Seed Western Conference vs. Lowest Seed Prairie Conference

 

CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND

WWCFL Championship Game

 

Regina & Saskatoon have previously met in the Prairie Conference Championship Game every year in league history. The two teams have combined to win every WWCFL Championship in league history, with Regina taking home two of the last three.

Regina’s championship bid was put together by a Hosting Committee consisting of Regina Riot General Manager Alicia Dorwart, as well as support staff members Bre Deren, Ciara Cullen & Amanda Hungle. This is the second time that the Riot will be hosting the championship game.

10 QUESTIONS WITH SHELBY MORAN

In the lead up to the 2018 regular season, we’ll be taking a closer look at certain Regina Riot players both on-and-off the field in our new series, 10 Questions. This week we talk with long-time Riot linebacker Shelby Moran.

 

  1. We heard a rumour that you’ve started at linebacker for the Regina Riot in every game in team history. Can you confirm?

This is 100% correct!!!

 

  1. So you’ve been with the Riot since Day 1. What made you want to sign up back then before a team really existed?

I played football throughout high school, beginning in Ontario and ending at Winston Knoll. Football has always been my passion, so as soon as I heard about the team and after the first Football 101 classroom session… I was in no matter what.

 

  1. How has the team changed in the years that you’ve been involved with it?

We have definitely become more elite and professional. The athleticism and age range has changed quite drastically too. The amount of people that know the team has gone way up, likely due to the increased media coverage we receive. When we began it was very hard to get volunteers for games or book facilities, now we have partnerships and sponsorships in place that help cover all of this.

 

  1. What is it about the defensive side of the football that attracts you?

I love to hit people and I love to tackle!!! I also like defensive schemes.

 

  1. What’s the hardest hit you’ve ever laid on someone?

I don’t really know, there have been quite a few. Probably one of the fumbles I’ve forced over the years.

 

  1. How do you spend your time when you aren’t playing football?

I mostly spend my time working as a carpenter or hanging out with my friends (many of whom are from the team). I like to go to the gym as well.

 

  1. We know the locker room can get pretty crazy sometimes. What’s your favourite locker room story (that you’re able to tell us)?

What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room…. (laughs)

If I have to say something, I would say either the pre-game dancing (which I’m very much a part of) or the post-game celebrations after either of our championship wins.

 

  1. What is your favourite moment in a Regina Riot jersey?

Both WWCFL Championship games come to mind, as well as the first time we ever beat Saskatoon (which just happened to be on my birthday AND Mother’s Day). But my absolute favourite moment is actually a bit different.

On our defense, the linebackers like to yell out some funny things when we’re on the field. One time, we yelled “dog squat” and managed to make the entire offensive line of the opposing team laugh, which caused them all to go offside. It was a great moment. (laughs)

 

  1. How has playing for the Regina Riot helped you grow as a person?

It has helped me become a better person by providing so many volunteer opportunities where I’m able to help out in the community. It has also helped me grow as a teammate and become a better role model for others.

 

  1. Where do you think the Regina Riot are headed in 2018 and beyond?

To some more championships!!!

I think we are going to continue to grow and continue to direct more of the spotlight our way. I think more and more girls are going to be looking up to the Regina Riot.

10 QUESTIONS WITH MALLORY STARKEY

In the lead up to the 2018 regular season, we’ll be taking a closer look at certain Regina Riot players both on-and-off the field in our new series, 10 Questions. This week we get in-depth with running back Mallory Starkey.

 

  1. When did you start playing football? Why?

I started playing football when I was 11 years old. I grew up watching my three older brothers play, and I couldn’t wait to start playing myself. The bantam football team that my youngest brother played for allowed kids to sign up when they turned 11, and so it gave me the opportunity to play a year with my brother.

I was also fortunate enough to be able to play high school football on a women’s team prior to joining the Regina Riot.

 

  1. What makes the Regina Riot different than the other football teams you’ve played for? 

One of the main things that the Riot do differently than other football teams I’ve been apart of is the focus they put on developing an elite program. Rather than competing against ourselves, we work together to help improve each other as individuals and as a team.

 

  1. How has the team changed in the years that you’ve been involved with it?

This team has grown in many ways since I first became involved. We’ve moved away from just being a group of women playing football, and moved toward being an elite team working together to achieve a common goal. The knowledge and understanding of football on this team has increased dramatically, and the level we are able to compete at as a team is helping to develop the league as a whole.

 

  1. What is it about the running back position that attracts you?

One of my favourite things about being a running back is the variety of skills and responsibilities that are involved depending on the play. At times running backs have to be able to provide pass protection, lead block, run routes and carry the ball. I also love the aggressiveness and physicality that is required.

As a running back, I am also able to see how the hard work of my teammates makes plays successful, and I can better appreciate the efforts and skills of other players.

 

  1. How does splitting time with someone like Carmen Agar make you both better players?

Carmen and I play running back differently, and we have different strengths. Because we play differently and come from different athletic backgrounds, we have been able to learn from each other and push each other to develop our abilities. With both of us having years of experience under our belts, we’re able to give advice and suggestions during games that can help the other be successful on the field.

 

  1. Has anyone given you & Carmen a running back duo nickname yet? If not, what do you think it should be?

When we first started we were referred to as the Dynamic Duo for a bit. But since then, it’s always been Batman & Robin.

 

  1. Tell us about your time playing for Team Canada in 2013 and 2017.

My experiences on Team Canada have been incredible!

In 2013 I had the opportunity to play as a running back and I was able to learn a great deal from the coaches there. I also gained a greater understanding of American football and the different rules they play by. It was a blessing to be able to represent Canada on an international platform and to advance women’s football as a country.

In 2017, I went as a linebacker. Unfortunately I was injured and unable to participate in the games. Still, it was incredible to see the growth that had happened in 4 years. And it’s even more exciting to think about where women’s football in Canada will go in the future.

 

  1. How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t playing football?

I’m a full-time student currently working on a Master’s Degree. In my spare time I also coach high school football and play college softball.

 

  1. What is your favourite moment in a Regina Riot jersey?

My favourite moment in Regina Riot history would probably have to be winning the Prairie Conference Final in Regina (in 2017). There were a few young girls and boys who came onto the field after we had won that were asking for autographs from the players. It was a great moment to see that, as a team, we were inspiring young kids. Football changed my life, and I love that we now get to pave the way for young girls to play football in the future.

 

  1. Where do you think the Regina Riot are headed in 2018 and beyond?

Looking back over the years I have played with the Riot and thinking about where we have come as a program, I think we’re headed towards another great season in 2018. As a team we had a lot of changes and we will be welcoming a lot of new, younger players. We ended last season on a high note, and I expect the program to continue to evolve and develop into an elite program in the future.

10 QUESTIONS WITH KRISTI JAKUBOWSKI

In the lead up to the 2018 regular season, we’ll be taking a closer look at certain Regina Riot players both on-and-off the field in our new series, 10 Questions. This week we’re talking with last year’s Regina Riot Defensive Rookie of the Year Kristi Jakubowski.

 

  1. You joined the Regina Riot as a rookie in 2017. What made you want to play football?

My boyfriend plays, and I’m a super competitive person. I thought to myself, “Hey, why not try it out?”

 

  1. How would you describe your first year with the Regina Riot?

My rookie season was both amazing and scary! I had no idea what I was doing, and all the other women are so talented. It could be pretty intimidating walking into practice with a room full of elite athletes.

However, I quickly realized that it was more than a football team; it was a family. My teammates and coaches were very welcoming and supportive. They truly wanted me to be the best player that I could be.

 

  1. Is there a moment from your rookie season that stands out among the rest?

Not one great moment, but two: scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery and receiving the Defensive Rookie of the Year award at our year end banquet. 🙂

 

  1. If all of the defensive linemen from last season took turns on the bench press, who would put up the most reps?

Obviously me. (laughs) 

Just kidding. From last year I would have to give it to my girl Amanda Tafelmeyer. But she won’t be playing in 2018, so if you’re looking for someone that will be on the field this year I’ll say it’s Ashleigh Henrion.

 

  1. This season you’re going to be transitioning from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive side of the ball. How are you preparing for that?

I’m preparing to make a lot of mistakes. (laughs)

It’s a totally different ball game playing on the offensive line. There’s definitely a learning curve, but my coaches and linemates are super supportive and knowledgeable. They’ll help me adjust.

 

  1. I understand that you come from a boxing background. What can you tell us about that?

I grew up on a farm in a small town, so playing sports was just what we did. I grew up playing hockey and ball, and later in life is when I discovered boxing. I became a provincial champ and a Saskatchewan Golden Gloves champ.

 

  1. When you aren’t playing football or boxing, how do you like to spend your time?

I teach boxing fitness classes at the Regina Boxing Club (does that count as not boxing?). I also spend time travelling and watching movies. I work out a lot at our sponsor Evolution Fitness, and have recently found a new love for weightlifting. Mostly, I just like to stay active.

 

  1. As a woman, what does it mean to you to be able to play a traditionally male sport such as football?

BRING IT!!!!

Yes, football is considered a male dominated sport. But I’ve had many fans say that they could never tell that we were women under those jerseys. We hit hard and we play hard, just like the men. I can’t wait to see how women’s football continues to grow in the future.

 

  1. How has playing for the Riot helped you grow as a person?

I have learned so much about teamwork, and about how far hard work can get you. Commitment, dedication, drive… all important life skills that have helped me grow as a person.

 

  1. Where do you think the Regina Riot are headed in 2018 and beyond?

STRAIGHT TO THE TOP!

We’re already at the top, and we don’t plan on going anywhere. We have a lot of fight in us (and stubbornness), and there is no way anyone is taking that away from us without one hell of a #Riot.

10 Questions with Aimee Kowalski

In the lead up to the 2018 regular season, we’ll be taking a closer look at individual Regina Riot players both on-and-off the field in our new series, 10 Questions. We begin our series this week with starting quarterback Aimee Kowalski.

 

  1. You’re one of the founding members of the Regina Riot. Not only have you been playing for the team since Game 1, but you helped build the team on an organizational level as well. Tell us a little bit about the experience of starting a football team from scratch.

It’s honestly kind of a funny story. I had seen the Saskatoon Valkyries on the news and had reached out to Football SK to find out how I could play for them. I was totally prepared to drive in each day for practice, possibly even uproot my life and find a job in Saskatoon, when rumblings of a team starting up in Regina began to happen.

I was one of a six women sitting in a board room with Steve Mazurak of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, having those initial discussions about how to get a team together. Steve really helped us out a lot in the beginning, providing us with the Roughriders’ centennial uniforms. That’s why the Riot wear red, black and silver today.

We had others helping us along as well. Regina Minor Football supplied us with equipment, as did Mike Thomas of Football SK. Advertising agency Bravo Tango supplied us with our own logo, which was huge in helping us establish an identity.

When it came time to name the team, we knew we wanted it to start with ‘R’. We had a history buff on the committee, so we ended up choosing the Regina Riot (because of the riots of 1935). We really loved that name because it’s about rising up, and that’s what our team culture is all about. We rise up and try to set the standard for women in football.

If you would have Googled Regina Riot back in 2011, those riots would have been the first things to appear. Now, it’s Regina Riot Football. That’s pretty cool, to be part of starting something like that.

 

  1. Why did you think it was important for Regina to have a women’s tackle football team?

It’s important because I feel that women need to be empowered. Not every woman feels empowered in a dress or in heels or by fulfilling their ‘mom’ duties. Some of us are looking for something else. The women on our team feel empowered by strapping on a set of pads, throwing on a helmet and running at each other at 100 km/h. Or they feel empowered by charging through the line and scoring a touchdown. Or they feel it just by being out there and being supportive of another person who thinks the same way as they do. It’s important that they have those opportunities.

I also think that Regina needs the Riot because they represent an opportunity for women to continue their competitive athletic career beyond university. For most women, that’s where it all ends (if not earlier). After that, all you’re left with are rec leagues. This was a huge motivation for me when starting the Riot. I wasn’t ready for my competitive sports career to end at the age of 22.

 

  1. How has the team changed in the years since things started back in 2011?

We’ve come a long way. When things began, it was all run by players. From a talent perspective, we were just happy to be able to field a team. We would recruit anyone who was interested, and it was a bonus if they happened to be dating someone who could come out and help coach. Now when we’re recruiting, we’re putting a focus on finding experienced athletes. Our coaches all come with experience at the high school or junior level. It’s a change that has allowed us to become more competitive and helped lead to last year’s championship.

As I mentioned before, we had a lot of help from the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Regina Minor Football in getting started, particularly when it came to equipment. We still rely on the support of these organizations, but we have progressed as well. Last year we got to wear new jerseys provided through a sponsorship by Banbury Plumbing & Heating. And it was a real instance that proved the phrase “Look good, feel good, play good” does work.

I think that’s the biggest change, that all we as players need to focus on now is playing well. We get a lot of support from the community and volunteers that take care of everything in the background, which us weathered veterans especially appreciate. We were around when it wasn’t that way, and I think that’s one thing it’s important for new players to recognize when they join the team: we wouldn’t be where we are today without the hard work of all the players, coaches & volunteers who came before.

 

  1. How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t playing football?

In the winter months I work in the education system and stay in shape for football. It’s great! I have the freedom in the summer to be outdoors. My wife and I love to camp. We love our little Boler camper and we just bought a Volkswagen van, which we plan on having a lot of adventures and fun with. I also have four dogs that I love to snuggle with, as well as two mini-athletes that are working hard to fulfill their dreams.

My nemesis is boredom, so I try to stay busy all the time.

 

  1. You’re the starting quarterback for the Riot, and your sister Alex plays receiver. What is that like?

Not many sisters get the opportunity to play competitive sports together into their 20s and 30s. It’s a unique experience. Having a sister on the team means we’re able to hold each other accountable. She can tell me when I suck, and I can tell her when she sucks. We never take offence to each other because we have that familial trust. It’s an advantage that goes beyond the observed chemistry that you see on the field when we’re playing ‘pitch and catch’. Football has brought us closer together as sisters, and as a whole family.

 

  1. In 2017 you threw for 880 yards – 8 TDs – 2 INTs. So I guess my question is… what’s up with those interceptions?

I’d like to say that I threw them on purpose, so that I could get some tackling practice in. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

Jokes aside, part of football is making mistakes and learning from them. Nobody is perfect in competition. Football is reactive. You don’t know exactly where your opponent is going to go on any given play or what they’re going to do, so mistakes happen. This isn’t a choreographed routine. That’s the beauty of football – you can’t be perfect and shouldn’t try to be. You can set records, but you can’t be perfect.

But you can still be excellent, because excellence is about how you adjust and learn from your mistakes. Football really builds character in this way. I’d like to never throw an interception again, and as the years go by I become more and more comfortable seeing the field from the pocket. But opposing players still come out of nowhere. Mistakes still happen. That’s why I like to play football, it’s a lot like life. Anything can happen, and it keeps you on your toes.

Also, I’d like to point out that Kevin Glenn threw 14 interceptions last year. Based on my numbers, I think I may need to start receiving a salary this year. (laughs)

 

  1. Tell us about your experiences playing for Team Canada in 2013 and 2017.

In 2013 we played in Vantaa, Finland. Not many people think of Finland as a warm weather country, but it was hot when we were there. We had to strategically schedule practices to avoid the heat and took a dip or two in the beautiful lake that backed the Finish Olympic Training Centre that we stayed at.

When we played the host team from Finland, we were already down a couple touchdowns when I came into the game during the second half. I don’t think they were prepared for a running quarterback, because we ended up blowing them out of the water. The win advanced us to the gold medal game. Unfortunately, I blew out my knee in the first play of that next game.

In 2017 we were in Vancouver. Playing for your home country in your home country is a unique experience, never mind the fact I got to share that experience with a number of other Riot players. It was a really great opportunity to see the growth of the Riot program over the past four years. Not only were we well represented, but many of our players had a big impact as well. We came up short to the United States in the gold medal game once again, but the bright side was you could see the progress that had been made in the previous four years. The margin keeps minimizing.

 

  1. Is there a particular pass that stands out to you as the best or most memorable you’ve ever thrown?

Since Al joined the Riot we’ve had a lot of fun playing together. She possesses the speed for me to throw a ball up 40 yards down field, which has lead to some pretty exciting plays. Two plays from this past year’s IFAF Women’s World Championship stand out as ones that I will never forget.

The first took place in a game against Great Britain. It was a scramble play, and Alex was hauling it downfield. I was in trouble with a defensive end in quick pursuit, but I was able to evade the pressure and got it up for her for a huge play. It was a real important one to get, as we hadn’t found our stride on offense yet. It proved to be a game changer.

The other one that stands out is the first touchdown that we scored in our game against the United States. We had a few seconds left on the clock before halftime and we were down, so we needed a big play. I rolled out of the pocket and was able to find Al behind the defenders downfield. We connected and she put up a major which was exactly what we needed going into halftime.

 

  1. What is your favourite moment in a Regina Riot jersey?

They’re starting to add up! My favourite still has to be when we beat the Saskatoon Valkyries in 2015 to move on to the WWCFL Championship. It was a brutally hot day, the hottest football game I’ve ever played. The score was very close as we neared the end of the game and we were exhausted. We managed to drive the ball down the field far enough for Morgan Turner to put a field goal through for the win.

That game meant a lot of things, to the team and to me personally. It meant that after many, many years of hard work the Riot were emerging as a top WWCFL team. Personally, I was also coming off a pretty bad ACL injury, so I had people doubting my ability to play QB.

It was a close game, a full team effort, and we managed to squeak out a win with seconds left on the clock. That all adds up to make this one feel pretty historic.

 

  1. Where do you think the Regina Riot are headed in 2018 and beyond?

With 25+ new recruits and a dedicated coaching staff, this is going to be a huge year for us. We are truly in a great place having only lost a handful of players from last year and are reaching numbers that we have not reached before. The talk about making cuts has been had, which is both good and bad: good because it speaks to where we are as an organization but bad because we hate to have to let players go.

Overall, I’m expecting a huge improvement for us. The only way to go is up!