Who says women can’t play football? Certainly none of the women who are part of the Denver Gay & Lesbian Flag Football League (DGLFFL)!
On Friday, September 21, 2012 the women’s division of the National Gay Flag Football League’s (NGFFL) annual Gay Bowl tournament kicked off in Denver, the Mile High City. In their original bid, the DGLFFL tournament host committee insisted that a women’s division would be born, stating emphatically that failure was not an option.
Thanks to the tenacity of the DGLFFL trail blazers, tournament director Mollie Leman and Compete Magazine’s 2012 Inspirational Athlete of the Year Molly Lenore, a dynamic women’s division was born. Congratulations that year went to the Denver 303 who won the inaugural women’s division game against the Brooklyn Mavericks, 2-6, with MVP honors going to the Denver 303’s Ashleigh Miller.
During this first year of combining the men’s and women’s divisions into one tournament, the only two exceptions made to the men’s rules were the ball size (it was the NFL junior size) and there was no cap placed on straight players. Make no mistake – the ladies were excited and eager to participate in future Gay Bowls.
Now five years later, 10 women’s teams will be competing for a chance to hoist the championship trophy when the women meet for Gay Bowl XVI in Washington, D.C. They’ll also be welcoming the latest addition to their division, the team from Toronto. It certainly proves the adage that if you build it, they will come!
What separates the Gay Bowl 7-on-7 from other national tournaments is that it includes brackets for both men and women where tournaments are predominantly segregated, especially when they are 8-on-8. Other NGFFL tournaments have recently started to include a women’s division, namely The Sunshine Cup in Florida held every year on Presidents Day weekend and the Chicago Pride Bowl held each June.
Aszur Rollins, co-founder of the DGFFL Mile High Club team serves as the Gay Bowl women’s division liaison. Currently eight of the 25-member-cities have a strong women’s presence. With Aszur’s guidance, the NGFFL has high hopes that each member city will continue to raise awareness that there is a place for women in their local chapters. Having an emphasis on growth at the local level will lead to consistent growth for the Gay Bowl as well as helping gauge interest in a possible 8-on-8 division that could spike interest.
Having won four consecutive national Gay Bowl titles, the women from the Mile High City team are a force to be reckoned with. And they plan to make a clean sweep of the three major NGFFL tournaments in 2016. If they win at this year’s Gay Bowl, it will be the first time any team in the open or women’s division will have won all three tournaments in a year. We aren’t done with this year’s accomplishments. They have also won two 8-on-8 tournaments. What an amazing year it will be for them if they can win their fifth consecutive national title.
By Jared Garduno
Header photo by Pixel Studio