As the Western Women’s Canadian Football League expands to nine franchises, Amy Wadsworth is the architect behind the new franchise making its home in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Known as the Northern Anarchy, Wadsworth is pulling double duty as she serves as Team President, while also serving as a member of the roster.
“With this being Northern Anarchy's first season my duties as president have been endless. Beginning with research and development and all associated paperwork to get our team rolling, club budgeting and donations, to organizing and ordering all team equipment and recruitment of players and coaches.”
Working tirelessly to ensure that the club is ready for its first contest, a day at the office for Wadsworth is one that encompasses many tasks. Having also served as the team manager, a new face has come to the franchise to relieve Wadsworth of that role.
“I have also played the role of team manager up until about a week ago. Which included booking all our team practices, transportation, hotel rooms, fields, officials.... and the list goes on and on. Thank you to Nicole Bowdring for taking that on.”
“My younger sister Robyn has been a great help with team fund-raising events, and many players have aided in bringing in sponsors. Once all areas are running smoothly and the chaos of getting the first season going is settled, I am looking forward to passing many of my duties on and focusing on over-seeing and critiquing our club.”
Like many women in sport, Wadsworth is not paid a million-dollar salary. Like the women that compete in hockey, soccer or softball, juggling family, career and sport tends to be a unique balance. As a mother of four and a full-time student, Wadsworth is an inspiration to working mothers everywhere.
“I'm currently a full-time student taking my Business Diploma with my major in accounting and will be pursuing a degree in Bachelor of Commerce. As a mommy of four, I am working as well. Did I mention I am a player on the Anarchy? I play the position of middle linebacker.”
“My daughter Kassandra plays football with Anarchy and the Sexsmith Sabres; daughter Kameron plays football with the Sabres and participates in gymnastics; son Gregory plays Peewee football in Grande Prairie; Marshall is in karate and tutoring; I can't seem to convince him to play football!”
With her interest in football truly being a family affair, helping to make the Northern Anarchy a reality is a labor of love. As several members of her family are involved in girls’ high school football, an encounter with an executive of the WWCFL led to Wadsworth being involved in the birth of a franchise.
“My oldest daughter Kassandra and my nieces Mikenzie and Mercedez play for the Sexsmith Sabres. The previous two years, the girls’ high school team had been invited to the WWCFL jamborees. At the 2012 jamboree in Edmonton, former president Linda Craig approached the "Sabre mommies" and suggested we start a women's team here (in Grande Prairie). The rest is history. We currently have about five girls who play for Northern Anarchy as well as the Sabres.”
With any new franchise, the challenge is ensuring that there are sponsors and fan support. The two are essential in a healthy future for the Northern Anarchy. For Wadsworth, she is fortunate to have a great support group in place to assist her.
“In terms of sponsorship and fan support, Northern Anarchy definitely has a great foundation in place for its first year. The club has nailed down a couple of big sponsors and numerous others. The ladies on the team continue to hunt as well and have brought in a generous amount to contribute. In addition, the volunteerism from our group of ladies and coaches is amazing.”
As women’s tackle football is a growing sport in Western Canada, a key factor in helping to grow the franchise and the league has included good public relations. Wadsworth and her teammates have given back to the community, while engaging in many charitable functions.
“We had our first dinner fund-raising event in November which was a big hit; volunteered as designated drivers for the Toys for Tots dinner and silent auction; the team conducted a bottle drive in March that was a major contribution. This coming Sunday, the 21st of April, we will be hard at work along the highways for road-side clean-up; and we have another dinner/golf fund-raiser scheduled for June 21...also our wind-up party!”
“Mid-last year we estimated about $51,000 in start up and run costs for this season: between sponsorships and donations, team fund-raising, grants, and player's fees we have already raised over $40,000. Our players and coaches travel expenses including transportation and hotel rooms will be able to be covered by the club this season.”
While Wadsworth has tackled the administrative and financial aspects that come with running a team, there also come the realities of the on-field product. Like any new franchise, there is an adjustment period needed for players to gel and get accustomed to each other. While not even half of the Northern Anarchy roster is experienced, Wadsworth is pleased with the results.
“Out of the 30 registered players, only about 12 have previous football experience. However, the team has come together as a solid unit and the determination and dedication of these women is incredible. It is now very hard to tell who had previous experience and who didn't.
"We really have come a long way in the past month. In terms of fans, we had our first annual inter-squad game April 14, offense vs. defense. The turn-out was more than expected, very nice to see members of our community out supporting us.”
With the Northern Anarchy’s first game in franchise history on May 4 against the Edmonton Storm, a win would make an essential statement in the league. Facing a Storm team that features 41-year old quarterback (and ageless wonder) Karin Simmons, Lindsay Ertman (a 15-year veteran), and Brenna Bouchard, a second-year sensation with the franchise, a victory would be hard-earned.
“We're hoping to win our first game and would that feel awesome! Our coaches are working hard for us and have truly been fantastic. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we will be able to play our home game against the Storm as scheduled. To win our first game would be an amazing success for our ladies and coaches, a great reward for all of our hard (but painful) work!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”