The Edmonton Storm of the Western Women’s Canadian Football League are looking to assemble a championship squad, with a complement of veterans and young stars currently comprising the roster. Having lost to the Lethbridge Steel in the 2012 Western Conference championship, Edmonton is ready to learn from the experience.
Kiki Simmons pulls double duty as Storm president and starting quarterback. With eight years experience as a quarterback, Simmons is the undisputed leader of the franchise. Similar to her counterparts in the league, her initial introduction to the sport was flag football.
“I grew up in BC and tackle football wasn't very big at the time so it was more of an elite sport. My hairdresser introduced me to flag football 20 years ago, so tackle was a natural progression once the opportunity presented itself. It doesn't hurt that some guy somewhere along the line said 'girls can't play football.' We've shown him!”
Complementing the skill and experience of Simmons is Brenna Bouchard. Among the new generation of competitors for the Storm, Bouchard is contributing to the team by playing offense and defense.
“I play running back on offense and linebacker on defense. I find both challenging for different reasons, but I'd say that offense has been harder to get the knack of. Before last year, I had never played a sport where you memorize specific plays, so I've been working hard to learn the terminology and timing.”
Bouchard’s athletic background is in rugby. Naturally, Bouchard evolved to the competition of tackle football. “I used to play rugby and my friend Sabrina told me I should come try out football. I'm really competitive and I love a challenge, so football seemed like a sport I could really get into!”
Having played one season of football, a particular moment stood out as Bouchard’s favorite. “My favourite moment was definitely my first touchdown at Jamboree! Due to the speed of play, the adrenaline rush is like no other!”
Simmons is an ageless wonder, in the same mold as the legendary George Blanda. While age is just a number for the pivot, her ability to continue to excel in football makes her a role model for women in their forties looking to get in shape. “I'm only 40 but I would be happy if one woman saw me as proof that you can still 'do anything' at my age.”
Being a member of the Canadian National Team, which participated at the 2010 Women’s World Tackle Football Championships, was a remarkable event in Simmons’ career. As the 2010 championships marked the inaugural tournament, it represented the opportunity to be part of history. Simmons would emerge from the tournament with a silver medal.
“Honour is the first thing that comes to mind. Based on the sheer number of outstanding female athletes that play the sport, I look back at it and I am still amazed that I had the opportunity.”
After a disappointing finish to the 2012 WWCFL postseason, Simmons is eager to bring a title to Edmonton (known affectionately as the City of Champions). In asking what it will take to win the 2013 WWCFL title, Simmons replied:
“To win the title this year, it will take confidence through individual experiences. We need to just feel the situation and react instead of over thinking things. In practice, it's just go. If we do it wrong the coaches will correct us and we will learn faster than just sitting and asking questions about it.”
Bouchard added, “Dedication for sure! I think it comes down to putting in the extra effort. Little things like going home and studying your plays or going to the park after practice to throw a ball around—it all adds up! Our Coach always says, ‘You get out what you put in to it!’”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”