No makeup, no pom-poms and no powder-puff nonsense here-just women’s football. That’s right. Hard-hitting, pad smashing, full-tackle women’s football, right here in Utah. The Utah Blitz women’s football team recently wrapped up its inaugural season and is excited about the future of women’s full-tackle football.
“I think fans will be amazed at how much support that we have,” said Concetta Defa, Utah Blitz player and co-founder. “At our first game, we had over 900 fans, which was awesome.”
“I think that if people haven’t watched a women’s football game, they have no idea what to expect,” said Judy Rich, who is also a player and co-founder for the Blitz. “I think what they expect is closer to ‘powder-puff’ or flag football.”
“It’s definitely not powder-puff football,” Defa said. The women of the Utah Blitz must have health insurance before they ever get to strap on a helmet.
“I think people are surprised when they see the aggression we play with, and when they see the real collision,” said Rich. “We get people at our games that maybe aren’t football fans, but they get hooked with women’s football.” Rich is from Kearns and went to school at SLCC.
“Not to say that women’s football is slow, but it is a little slower than the men’s game. It’s women, playing football,” Rich said. “The good thing about it is that fans have time to absorb what has really taken place.”
The Utah Blitz play in a league named the WFA (Women’s Football Association). The WFA currently consists of 40 teams divided into two conferences, National and American. The Utah Blitz is in the American Conference, North Pacific Region.
The Blitz finished their first season winless, with a record of 0-7. Utah had the toughest schedule in the league for a time, and finished with the fourth toughest rated schedule in the WFA. Utah plays its home games at Granger High School, on the varsity football field.
“We were a team of rookies,” said Defa. The Blitz were up against it all season, having to play against teams that had more experience. “We only had two or three players with any real tackle football experience.”
Four inspired women founded the Utah Blitz in Sept. 2009. Defa, Rich, Chrystle Kerfoot and Brooke Perkins had until April 2010 to be ready for action.
“In September, the four of us sat down and decided that we wanted to put a team together,” Defa said. The founders then drew up a business plan and got started. “We had to get a name, a logo, and then make sure the name was all okay with the state,” Defa said.
“We took care of the business side of things before we did the football stuff,” said Defa. Teams must get a business license and file tax information before being permitted to join the league. “In the end, we feel we did things the right way.”
“The personnel part of things came together pretty easily,” said Defa. “We thought that it was going to be a big challenge, because we thought it would be hard to find interested people.”
“We thought it might be tougher than it was, but if we could get 30 players and at least one coach, we could get it done,” said Defa.
In the end, it wasn’t difficult for the Blitz to drum up a following. “We ended up topping out at 52 players, and having a full coaching staff by the time the season started,” said Rich.
“We really want women’s football to grow into something that helps girls have football teams in high school or even earlier,” said Defa.
Defa’s hometown is Magna, and she spent her high school days as a Cyprus Pirate. “We’d like to see scholarships given to women for football someday.”
One Blitz player took part in a particularly memorable moment this past season.
A young girl who plays little league football approached following a home game, Lisa Jensen, who plays defensive end for the Blitz. “The little girl was wearing her football jersey, and she had the same number as Lisa wears, and they even play the same position.” said Defa.
The little girl waited for the players to come off of the field, and then asked Jensen if she could have her picture taken with her. “Lisa was her new hero, and it was a great moment,” said Defa.
“The game is a game, we’re there to compete,” Defa said. The goals of a player founder are different than those of an everyday player. “We’re out there to play, sure, but we’re also out there to promote women’s football.”
“We want this to continue on, and eventually to see a league specifically for young girls,” Defa said. The women of the WFA are spearheading a campaign to get girls involved in tackle football.
The Utah Blitz encourages women who may be hesitant about trying tackle football to give it a try. “I would like recruits to at least come out and try football,” said Rich.
“Some of the hits we take still hurt with all the padding, but for the most part, the hits don’t hurt-that’s why we wear pads,” Rich said.
For centuries, men alone have poured blood, sweat and tears upon the gridiron altars of American football. For so long, men and boys were the only ones who could claim the honor, sacrifice and glory that comes with being a tackle football player.
Times are certainly changing, and in typical female fashion, women won’t be ignored. The ladies of the Utah Blitz are testament to that. “We’re not ladies when we’re on the field,” said Defa.
The Utah Blitz would like to thank all of their sponsors, Patty Galindo, and Rhonda Killian of Red Robin, who generously grilled up burgers for Blitz fans to enjoy at home games.
The Utah Blitz welcome anyone who wants to be a part of the women’s football experience, either as a coach, player or volunteer.
More information about the Utah Blitz women’s football organization is available at utblitz.com and anyone interested in joining the Blitz can contact the team at Utah.firstname.lastname@example.org.