Gearing up for its fourth season, the North Winnipeg Nomads Wolfpack is proving that girls belong on the gridiron.
Established in 2011, the women’s tackle football team plays in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League’s Prairie Conference, taking on the Regina RIOT, the Saskatoon Valkyries and crosstown rivals, the Manitoba Fearless.
Wolfpack founder and left guard Adrienne Dudek said the team — which plays its home games at Markus Howell Field at the Old Exhibition Grounds, east of McPhillips Street — is made up of a variety of players, from football beginners to veterans of the National Women’s Football Team.
"The league bylaw specifies ages 16 and up," Dudek, 33, said. "We have a lot of women who play competitive sports, and we have a lot of women who have no experience. I think our youngest player last year was 17 and our oldest was late 40s. All skill levels, all walks of life."
The WWCFL season consists of four games in May, June and July, with the winner of the Prairie Conference taking on the top squad in the Western Conference (Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Okotoks and Grande Prairie) for the WWCFL championship. Last season, the Wolfpack finished with two wins and two losses, good for third in the conference.
In preperation for the 2014 season, the Wolfpack is offering a Skills & Drills training camp at the North Centennial Recreation and Leisure Facility (90 Sinclair St.) starting on Sun., Feb. 9.
The camp, running from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for four consecutive Sundays, costs $25 and is a chance for the Wolfpack to recruit new players.
"We’re looking to cover the basics, give women a taste of football, come out and see if it’s something they’re interested in," Dudek said. "It’s both for rookies and vets. As a vet, it’s always good for muscle memory. There’s always growing and learning."
Amanda Sousa, a Wolfpack defensive back and third-year player, said you don’t need to be muscle-bound giant to be on the gridiron.
"I’m five-foot-eight and average build," said Sousa, 24. "The perception is that football players have to be very large and muscular but there’s a spot for everybody. You can be short and thin, you can be built really large, there’s a place for everybody on a football team."
Sousa, who came to the Wolfpack through touch football, said she’s always been attracted to contact sports. And make no mistake; women’s tackle football is high contact.
"I don’t think people understand or anticipate that women hit just as hard as men do," Dudek said. "I don’t want to say we have lots of aggressive women, but we do have lots of committed women, performing really well and taking it very seriously."
To register for Skills & Drills, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the Wolfpack and the WWCFL, go to www.nomadswolfpack.com and www.wwcfl.com