As the Okotoks Lady Outlawz work towards becoming one of the contending franchises in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, the influence of family is a strong, positive factor for the roster. With many mothers competing on the franchise, it has quickly helped the team to bond.
Although the team also has some younger players (Tegan Donnelly, Bridjet Locke, Stacey Rogowski and Maleah Puimm), the balance of different ages has complemented each other well. Sandy Dielissen, a mother of two remarks on the impact that young and old have had on one another.
“Yet, the beautiful part of our team is the balance of age. We all [in my opinion] feel equal. We respect one another as players and not as moms. [Whether it be] students, young or old, teachers or nurses, we ALL have an important job to do; working together as a team, and all being the best leaders we can be.”
Dannee-Lee Barr, who dons No. 27 with the Lady Outlawz is grateful for the involvement of her family. As a single mother of four, Barr has a strong support system which allows her to pursue her dream of participating in an athletic endeavor.
“If it were not for my family and the help of my older children, I would not be able to do this. I am a single mom of four, so I am very busy trying to work and be here for them. I have never done anything like this. They all support it and think it is such a great thing. My son plays second year bantam football and he is so pumped his mom plays too. It takes a lot of commitment and sacrifices.”
With many of the mothers on the Lady Outlawz having children that play football, Sherrie Toews feels the strong sense of community that exists as part of the team culture. She is one of several moms on the Lady Outlawz whose son competes at the minor football level. As her son plays with the sons of several other teammates from the Lady Outlawz, a strong sense of friendship exists among them.
“Yes, many of us bonded years ago, cheering on our kids from the sidelines and supporting each other as friends and families in the same boat. Now we are cheering on each other. I consider these women as family, sisters I never had. I can count on them for anything.”
A mutual love and participation of the game has helped to build a newfound mutual respect between mother and child. As Dielissen has two sons that compete at the minor football level in Okotoks, her football experience has led to a great deal of personal growth.
“I think your kids forget sometimes that we had previous lives and we played perhaps many other roles in our communities, while having different lifestyles at one point. I myself wanted to apologize profusely to them both. As a matter a fact, I eventually did, for nagging [them] about not dressing fast enough before practice, or maybe not quite understanding how heavy running and squatting with all that equipment on really was.”
“Now, we ALL have come to a fair understanding that we maybe will just stick to the encouraging words and look at the bigger picture. We count bruises and compare injuries together, we reminisce moments of our practices and hits, talk about favorite drills or best moments on the field and we all understand and empathize.”
As the game serves as a way of bringing the community together, Dielissen is employing her experience in the game as an opportunity to teach her children about giving back. A key aspect in the establishment of the Lady Outlawz was through community support. She wants to ensure that her sons not only experience competitive growth from football but personal and social growth as well.
“We discuss how we can ALL work together in the community to help football grow and continue to be a success. [We also discuss] how we can give back to the communities support by being better citizens, no matter your age or division. We need to continue to encourage and support each other to just try our best. I think the bonding part is one of the greatest things about playing football, it makes the sport feel complete.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”