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Thursday, September 21, 2000

Women’s pro
football gives it
another go

Tryouts for the Hawaii Legends
are scheduled Saturday
on Kauai

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE -- The first in a series of statewide tryouts for the Hawaii Legends, a professional woman's football team that hopes to play its first season this fall, is scheduled Saturday on Kauai.

And, yes, we're talking tackle football here.

"You'd be surprised," said Legends coach Ted Dawson. "These women can hit. We have some very strong women over 300 pounds playing the line and receivers who are 6 foot 3 inches tall."

The Legends are hoping to pull together some of the best players from a women's semipro league that played its first and only season last year, add in some rugby and soccer players, and have them reappear as the 12th team in the new Women's Professional Football League.


Women interested in trying out can call Ted Dawson at 823-6689 or Nancy McMahon toll free at 1-877-811-9218.

"Actually, we'd only be No. 11 -- we won't play a full schedule this year," said Nancy McMahon, team owner. Or, more correctly, she is the owner of 50 sets of helmets and pads. She hasn't found the players to wear them yet. She also has a playbook with about 50 plays in it but no bodies to run them -- yet.

In her day job, McMahon, an archaeologist, is the Kauai manager for the State Historical Preservation Office. She is also a former University of Hawaii softball coach.

The team has a single road trip scheduled to the mainland to play in Minnesota on Dec. 16 and in Colorado on Dec. 24. It will host the Daytona Barracudas Dec. 30. The location for that game has not been decided.

Both McMahon and Dawson, a former semipro player, high school coach and coach of one of the semipro teams last year -- "My wife went out for the team, so I sort of had to go along" -- admit there are enormous obstacles to overcome, but they appear determined to make the Hawaii Legends real.

Geography is the toughest challenge. The rest of the league is on the mainland. Once the team gets to the West Coast, the league will pay its travel costs. But flying 30 players and staff to San Francisco will require sponsors.

And, unlike states on the mainland where players can, if they have to, drive long distances to practice, having a statewide team means lots of interisland air travel.

"Last year we couldn't have a real scrimmage. The offense was on one island, and the defense was on another," Dawson said.

In some respects, the Legends are ahead of the rest of the league, Dawson said. The Colorado Valkyries do not have uniforms yet. On the other hand, the Valkyries have some players who are wives of Denver Broncos players, and that is getting them lots of free publicity.

Another problem is finding a place to play. On Kauai, for example, all of the football fields are used by high school teams and soccer leagues on the weekends. A crowd of only a few hundred or even a few thousand would look lost in Aloha stadium.

The big question, of course, is, Are they any good? The answer is yes, unless you're expecting NFL-class play.

"It's kind of like watching a good high school game. There's lots of raw talent," said McMahon, who played in a semipro all-star game last year. "Hawaii has lots of fine women athletes."

"When I was younger I wanted to play, but I was always told that I couldn't. So I played with the boys in street football," she said.

Dawson said he is continuously surprised by the desire of a hard-core group to keep playing. Pay is in the neighborhood of $100 a game.

"When I first started coaching in the semipro league, I gave the whole thing two months. I figured they'd all quit and lots did," he said. "But there are still a lot of talented women who want to play, and we're still here."

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