Brute Force

Veteran quarterback Sami Grisafe. Photos Courtesy Scott Renshaw

For many of you they need no introduction.  But for those who don’t know who they are let me introduce to you, The Force.  The Force is Chicago’s ONLY REAL women’s tackle football team.  These women are true athletes through and through.  Day in and day out they sacrifice to play this game that America loves.  They do it for the sound their pads make when they put a square hit on a girl that lays her out.  A sound like that creates an automatic response of goose bumps and the surge of adrenaline for any of her teammates within earshot.  They do it for that split second that feels like a lifetime, when a perfectly thrown pass lands gently in your hands and the turn to the end zone has nothing between you and it.  They do it for the smack you get on the butt, a “good game” from the other team after a great play that even your opponent has to admire.   It’s those moments that produces a high that no drug could come close to touching.  And that, my friends, is worth the sacrifice they make.

They walk away from a game or practice bruised and bloodied, wearing their badges of courage with pride.  They lick their wound, ice their bumps, and wake up and do it again tomorrow.  People have questioned whether a woman’s sport could be as exciting as watching men play.  Yes.  I will tell you once they put on their pads you won’t find a lady amongst them.

This year’s team has a mix of gritty veterans and eager new players ready and waiting to thrill a crowd.  This Saturday the team will take on the West Michigan Mayhem and THRILL  is what they plan on doing.  When Darcy Leslie, LB for the Force was asked what the crowd can expect she stated “there is a slim chance the Mayhem will see the end zone tomorrow. People should come tomorrow if they want to watch an exciting football game. They will come if they want to watch a well coached group of athletes. They’ll definitely see big hits and great catches.”

The West Michigan Mayhem is no slouch of a team.  Formerly the South Michigan Jaguars, the team has a history that is not foreign to winning. In 2009 they went undefeated until they lost by one touchdown in their third playoff game.  But the Mayhem have their hands full as the Force look to stay undefeated.  Leslie, who is leading the team in tackles, isn’t the only thing standing in their way.

Enter the offense.  When asking a couple players what they thought the final score would be,  the two players who would give me an answer both said 42-0.  I had to go back to Leslie to find out why the Force may put up numbers like that against the Mayhem.  She spoke with great respect for her offense. “Our offensive line is built of extraordinary athletes who have been playing together for years. They are the ones who are truly amazing. I really enjoy watching them blow past defensive lines as they make enormous holes for our running back.”  Being a lineman can be a thankless job, to hear a linebacker speak so highly of her line speaks well of the team cohesiveness and solidarity.

Another player VERY thankful for such an amazing line is quarterback, Sami Grisafe.  According to the Women’s Football Alliance website, she is rated third in the league with a 140.6 Quarterback rating… a number any NFL quarterback would kill for.  She ranks 4th in the league in completions with 43 of 62 passes attempted for a 69.4% completion rate.  Lastly she has 612 passing yards, also placing her fourth in the rankings.

Defensive end Angie Bandstra (18) lays a hit on a Minnesota Machine ball carrier. Photos Courtesy Scott Renshaw.

The Force looks strong both offensively and defensively.  Although the Mayhem have only lost one game, it was to a shared opponent.  The Mayhem lost to the St. Louis Slam 36-6 whereas the Force decimated the Slam 29-7.  It looks like this is going to be a definite check in the win column.  I’m going to have to predict a score of 35-7.  I have to give Mayhem’s double threat on the ground, Catherine Converse and Jennifer Plummer the respect they deserve. The Mayhem have a respectable air game, too.  Hoping to be wrong, I’d love to see another Chicago win with a goose-egg on the opponent’s score board.

So come out and support the Force one of five remaining undefeated teams in the league!  THIS IS THEIR LAST REGULAR SEASON HOME GAME.  The team has dedicated this game as Chicago Fire Department Appreciation Day.  (#18, Angie Bandstra is a firefighter)  The team will be hosting an after party following the game so feel free to come out and congratulate the mighty Force on another job well done.

Kick-off time is at 4pm at Winnemac Stadium/Jorndt Field.
5105 N. Leavitt St., Chicago, IL  60625

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About The Athlesbian

Meg was born and raised in Chicago where she became an avid sports fan the moment she laid her eyes on her first ball. She has a knack for picking up any sport quickly as most four sport high school athletes would. Meghan played two sports in college and spent her post college years playing women’s pro football, capturing a national title, before having to quit due to injury. She still plays numerous sports in rec leagues around the city and boasts at a recent team tryout knocked out 51 consecutive push-ups in a minute. Always willing to try something new she just played in her first rugby match. Meghan currently works as a fire-medic and is finishing her Master’s degree from University of Chicago, and no, unfortunately, its not in sports reporting!


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