Welcome to the first of our monthly off-season player/staff profiles! Each month during this extended off-season, we’ll profile a Riot player or coach, providing you with a closer look at some of the outstanding people who make up the Regina Riot.
April’s featured player is defensive back, Ashley Clayton. This native of Kinistino is entering her sixth season with the Riot. Most people on the team refer to her by her nickname, which is a story unto itself!
“My nickname is Dirt. Yep, Dirt. One day while breaking down film with the rest of the defense, a coach told a teammate she needed to put an opposing player ‘in the dirt.’ This was my first year, and I LOVED the idea. So much so, that my teammates pinned the nickname on me, in recognition of my enthusiasm for tackling (ie. putting opponents in the dirt). So, the name just stuck.”
Cool! Tell us about your sports background, including football.
“I have played soccer, volleyball, basketball, badminton, baseball, softball, ultimate frisbee, and done track and field and football. I love the thrill of winning and beating an opponent.
When I moved to Regina, I was told of this new sport, (new to me) of ultimate frisbee. When I ‘accidentally’ ran into a few opposing players (mostly male), a teammate suggested that I try football. I was in awe, amazed that there was actually a place for girls to play football. I loved the game, was confused by the game, and loved the thrill of game day from that moment on!”
What do you do away from the football field?
“I’m a teacher. I get to work with students and help influence the people they will become. I also work with Regina AFFL (Adult Flag Football League) doing statistics. I believe statistics may be my second love.
I also volunteer/work with Girls in The Game, which is an amazing program aimed at coaching girls in self-esteem and sports. It is an organization that provides a place for females to belong, develop sports skills, self-esteem, and ultimately encourages women and girls to stay in sport. This program is so important. Girls need to know that they are strong, capable, and do not have to be stereotypes. I think it is so cool that I have an opportunity to encourage girls and teach them about the sports I love.
I also am a volunteer coach for the Regina Victorias, the all-girls RMF team.”
What do you enjoy most about playing for the Riot?
“I love game day. When I was finished high school sports, I thought that was the end of my competitive days. I missed the smell of walking into a school/arena/sports complex and feeling that wave of heat and smelling the stale sweat and anticipating the game. As an adult, the opportunity to compete as an elite athlete is unreal.
I also love the team aspect. A team keeps you accountable and pushes you to do and be better.”
How are you staying busy right now, including staying in shape for football?
“We have been so fortunate to have people and groups that help us to stay in shape and train. We have an amazing strength and conditioning coach in Shawn Kuster. Have you ever had someone push you and it exhausts you, but you feel good after? That is what Shawn brings with his knowledge, experience, and planning.”
How anxious are you to get back together with your Riot family? How much are you missing them?
“I wish I was practicing and getting ready for upcoming games right now! It is crazy the different friendships that you develop while being on a team. I miss spending all of that time with people who are amazing.
This team truly is like a family. When I need help, I know I can call on someone who is part of the Riot.”
The members of Riot Nation (fans, sponsors, etc.) are definitely missing you guys! Do you have a message for all of our supporters?
“The sponsors make doing what we do possible. A football game does not happen just because I want it to. The sponsors make playing at Mosaic Stadium a real thing. They make game days possible.
Without Evolution Fitness, well, I would not have a lot of muscle. Evolution Fitness has given me sanity over the course of this crazy life season. Without their sponsorship, this would have been so much harder.
The fans are amazing. They are family, friends, and people who love the sport of football. How fortunate are we that people come to cheer us on? Thank you to all the fans who took their time, drove to see us play in different cities, and pushed us over the years.
In short, thank you to the sponsors, fans, and people who care about the Regina Riot. I love the game and I hope they do too.”