Tuesday, April 24, 2001
[ WOMEN'S FOOTBALL ]
NASHVILLE, Tenn. >> An executive chef quit her job to join the league. A firefighter organized her own team. A couple spent their retirement money to buy a franchise.
Women build leagues
of their own
By Teresa M. Walker
All made sacrifices for the same dream -- a piece of the new National Women's Football League.
"We are sold that this is going to fly," said Tammy Hall, who with her police officer husband, Ken, spent $35,000 of their retirement nest egg to buy the Chattanooga Locomotion.
"Ninety-five percent of the people we talked to are real excited. The other 5 percent think we're crazy. After they watch us, then they get excited," she said.
The Hawaii Legends, a team in the Women's Professional Football League, will host the Sacramento Sirens in a preseason game this Saturday at the Kaiser High School stadium.
Hawaii Legends play Saturday
Game time is 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, $10 for adults.
For more information, call 671-3849. The Web site is http://www.hawaiilegends.net The league is scheduled to open its second season in October.
-- Star-Bulletin staff
The 10-team league, which begins play Saturday, is the third of its kind to start in the last year, with hopes of tapping into the growing market for women's sports.
There are pro leagues for women's basketball, soccer and hockey -- all with growing fan bases. Women's football, however, remains a novelty. The Women's Professional Football League and the Independent Women's Football League have been slow to catch on, with the WPFL running out of money midway through its first season.
The women behind the NWFL think they have the best chance at not just surviving, but thriving.
"We're going to market it and run it like a business," said founder Catherine Masters. "We realize it's something you build. It's not going to be an overnight success."
Only the coaches and staff are assured of pay, and only if anything is left after bills are paid, she said. Players paid $35 for the right to try out, and those making the team put down a $250 deposit for a uniform.
"In everyone's contract, they make a percentage of profits at the end of the season as long as every bill is paid," Connecticut Crush owner and captain Melanie DePamphilis said. "Then we split evenly."
Nashville Dream captain Ahndi Coffey, 36, says she's content just for the chance to play real football.
"We never got the opportunity other than flag football," said the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Coffey, who grew up in Kentucky. She's a former chef, now the league's vice president and a starting linebacker.
The NWFL is grouped into two divisions -- the Philadelphia Liberty Belles, Baltimore Burn, D.C. Divas, Mass Mutiny and Connecticut Crush in the North; and the Nashville Dream, Alabama Renegades, Chattanooga Locomotion, Pensacola Power and Tennessee Venom in the South.