Portland welcomes women’s football

Unknown to many people are the Rose City Wildcats. The Wildcats are among the newest teams of the recently created Women’s American Football League (WAFL). The WAFL is made up of two divisions, the Pacific and Atlantic Conferences, with 17 teams playing within those conferences competing for the championship.

The Rose City Wildcats have had a tough start this year at 0-4. Two of those losses have come from the conference-leading Seattle Warbirds. With close to, if not, the smallest sized team, the Wildcats have shown great improvement. The Wildcats’ average size is about 170-180 pounds.

The Wildcats are headed by long time high school and semi-pro coach Al Burrell. He has coached with local high schools Lincoln and Grant, as well as the semi-pro Portland Prowess.

The season has been a learning experience for many of the Wildcat women since this is the first time they have ever played full contact football.

“The girls are starting to get it (fundamentals),” Burrell explained. “Now we need to get it in game situations. We need to start getting into position to make good tackles; get low and explode.”

The Wildcats not only have to overcome the small size of their team, but also need adequate time to practice. The women practice one day a week and watch film one to two days. The one day a week practices are due to the fact that the Rose City Wildcats have no practice facility that they can use at night.

It gets dark early now. Since most of the women work, they can’t practice until after 5 p.m. By that time it’s already dark, Burrell explained.

Even with the difficultiesthey face, the women play for the fun of the game.

Wildcats defensive end Jayme Gilgenbach couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play football.

“I decided to do it because it was such a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Gilgenbach said. “Football is a lot harder than I thought it was though. We didn’t realize there is a lot of strategy involved.”

Most of the women were high school or college athletes. From track to softball, the women couldn’t pass up a chance to live out their dreams.

Although the team is without a win, the players are still loving it and having a lot of fun, Gilgenbach said.

The Wildcats’ next game is in Seattle against the Warbirds, who have knocked off the Cats in their last two meetings, on Dec. 1.

“We can beat Seattle,” Burrell said. “We just need to make clean tackles.”