Toronto Triumph Believes It Can Win First LFL Canadian Crown

Mark Staffieri@@MarkStaff100Contributor IISeptember 15, 2012

Photo by Jack Bolland, Courtesy: Sun Media
Photo by Jack Bolland, Courtesy: Sun Media

Of all the teams in the newly formed Canadian division of the Lingerie Football League, the Toronto Triumph believes they can win it all. Playing their home games out of the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, their biggest advantage is that they played one season in the American Lingerie Football League.

Although that expansion season resulted in a winless one (the Triumph endured losses to the Tampa Breeze, Baltimore Charm, Philadelphia Passion and Orlando Fantasy), the experience was vital. Of note, Krista Ford, the niece of Toronto mayor Rob Ford, was the starting quarterback in the inaugural season, but she opted not to return for the 2012 season. She was one of over 15 players who walked out after expressing safety concerns. Adding to the troubles was a 48-14 loss to Tampa, in which defensive coach (and former Canadian Football League player) Sebastian Clovis was relieved of his duties.

Donning colors of Oxford Blue and Cambridge Blue, the Triumph have put their troubles behind them and are ready for a new season. The competition of the Triumph includes the British Columbia Angels, the Regina Rage, and the Saskatoon Sirens. For fans that may not be familiar with the gear used in LFL play, these fearless females don shoulder pads on top of sports bras. Shorts, knee pads to protect bare legs, and a hockey helmet complete the outfit.

The superstar of the Triumph is Jenny Butler. A former player with the Philadelphia Passion, she logged 162 rushing yards and 25 tackles in the 2011 season. She was also a finalist for the 2011 LFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. Hailing from Washington, DC, she is joined by two other players from the Passion.

Wide receiver Whitney Paronish played rugby at Slippery Rock University over the course of four years. She competed in Lingerie Bowls VIII and IX. During the 2011 season, Paronish had 169 receiving yards, averaging 21.1 yards per catch.

In the 2012 LFL Eastern Confrence championship, she caught a touchdown from Game MVP Christy Bell in a 44-32 win over the Tampa Breeze. In Lingerie Bowl IX, Paronish made a 40 yard touchdown catch, as the game aired on MTV2 instead of pay per view. The third member of the Passion to play for the Triumph is Jaleesa McCrary. In one game, the New Jersey native had her pants pulled down when she was tackled during the All-Star LFL Tour on June 9, 2012 in Sydney, Australia.

The trio from the Passion constitute the only Americans on the squad. Two players on the Triumph hail from Canada's capital city of Ottawa: tight end Roxy Rome and linebacker Isabelle Gosselin. Alicia Bell hails from Plaster Rock, New Brunswick. The graduate of Dalhousie Univeristy is a personal trainer and celebrity fitness expert. The shortest player on the team is linebacker Mandy Allen at 5'1", while their tallest players are Davine Burton and Roxy Rowe, both at 5'10".

The quarterbacking corps of the Triumph includes Marife Villagonzalo (who has played with Touch Football Ontario for several years) and York Region native Donna Paul, who suffered a PCL injury in the Triumph's inaugural season. The married school teacher played ice hockey for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, and played professional hockey in the NWHL with the National Capital Raiders in 1998-99. 

One of the few players with university football experience is 5’8” offensive linewoman Tiffany Russell. The native of Pickering, Ontario was a captain for the University of Toronto Flag Football club, known affectionately as the Powderpuffs. Although tackling was not allowed in the university game, blocking was, so the physical contact was evident.

Russell was one of five Triumph players chosen to be Sunshine Girls in the chain of Sun newspapers. Along with Russell, the other players included: Sylvie Manaigre (wears No. 5), Alysha Emerson (No. 14), Alicia Bell (No. 10) and Danisha Payne (No. 12). In 2011, some Triumph players also loaned their time to a worthy cause. Having made news worldwide, the players (which included Alicia Bell) engaged in a campaign for animal rights group PETA titled Tackling Cruelty: Bench Fur.