Having competed in the Maritime Women’s Football League and the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, linebacker Emma Hicks has shown herself to be an exceptional football player. The opportunity to participate in both leagues makes Hicks the first to achieve the historic feat.
Currently competing with the Regina Riot of the WWCFL, Hicks also spent time with the Capital Area Lady Gladiators in the MWFL. The experience of competing in the Maritime league with the Lady Gladiators marked her first full season.
“I had a great time playing with the Lady Gladiators last year. That was my first full season of football and I really appreciated the coaching that I received, while also playing with and against some fantastic women. I had a lot of support from the coaches and players, of which I am very thankful.”
Hicks added, “I truly believe they made me a better athlete; having the opportunity to train with particular athletes and learn under knowledgeable coaches, and these relationships continue to mean something off the field.”
While the WWCFL enters its third season, the MWFL has existed for a decade. The subtle differences between the leagues provide Hicks with a unique perspective on the game.
“The Maritime league has some different dynamics, where it's been around for a lot longer (celebrating its 10th season this year) and the teams are closer, and it was really interesting to be a part of. As far as I know, I'm the only one who has played in both leagues.”
A native of New Brunswick, Hicks first played for the Regina Riot in their inaugural season. While she has alternated between the WWCFL and the MWFL, the close-knit feeling that encompasses the culture of the Regina Riot is one that is not lost on her.
“The Regina Riot is my home team. I'm from New Brunswick, but I started my football career (if that's what it's called) here in their rookie season in 2011. I left Regina for school early in that season, only playing two league games with the team.”
"I've kept in touch with them; have been considered a 'Sask girl' by both my Regina team and my New Brunswick team (despite only living here for 5 months before). Since then I've always wanted to come back and play with them again.”
With the province of Saskatchewan showing a remarkable enthusiasm for football of all skill levels, ages and genders, Hicks understands the impact playing in the area has in shaping her career.
“I love the mentality, knowledge, and experience that are here, where football is so much more a part of the culture than in New Brunswick at this time. I had a few conversations with the Riot defensive coaches in preseason this year where we started to talk more seriously about me coming back. I decided to take this opportunity while I have the time, to return to my home team, learn under some great coaches, and continue to develop as a player.”
“My brother lives here as well so it's great to be able to see him again, and it is also an opportunity to explore some work opportunities in another area of the country, as a strength and conditioning coach.”
Among the highlights in her promising career includes being named to the Canadian National Team. The Canadian contingent will be looking to claim the gold medal at the 2013 Women’s Tackle Football Championships. With the opportunity to represent her country, the experience is one of great excitement.
“It really is an honor to be named to the national team, being able to represent my country on the international stage. It's still a bit unreal to me; I had never imagined playing at this level.”
While Hicks is still nascent to football, she has a natural ability to excel at the sport. As an athlete that has always been dedicated to training and success, the years of hard work are yielding pleasant yet positive results on the gridiron.
“I've been playing sports pretty much all my life, always worked hard and loved to train, but I've never been that highly skilled. I'm pretty new to football, but it seems to suit me well. I have learned a lot about the sport over these past couple years, with the help of some great coaches and teammates.”
“I'm really excited to be able to take my game to the next level with this opportunity, playing alongside the best athletes in the country, learning more from the coaches that are a part of this program, and competing against the best in the world with Canada behind us.”
During the 2013 WWCFL season, Hicks was part of an historic moment with the Regina Riot. With the rival Saskatoon Valkyries having never lost a game in franchise history, Hicks and her Riot teammates handed them their first ever loss. Having been part of some lopsided defeats in the early history of the Riot, defeating the Valkyries not only brought redemption, but supplied confidence.
“This first win was huge for us. It was a lot about believing in what we can accomplish and coming together as a team. I was playing with the Riot early in their first season when we lost 56-6 and 42-2 in our first games against them. I moved shortly after that and have since been following the league with a keen eye.”
“I've known where Saskatoon has stood in the league these past two years, and to come back and be a part of this win against them was huge. I think it's good for the league too, anything could happen. Seeing where the Riot has come since our first season is really exciting, and I think it's just one example of how the league and women's programs continue to develop.”
With a break through win against Saskatoon, the Riot are hoping that the epilogue to their season ends in championship glory. With Regina hosting the 2013 WWCFL championship, it is a strong motivational factor for the franchise. In asking what it will take to win the WWCFL championship in 2013, Hicks replied,
“It comes back to the premise behind the win against Saskatoon - a lot of hard work and we have to believe in what we can accomplish as a team. Football is a team sport; that's one of the best things about it.”
“I think we're really starting to come together on both offence and defense; we have to keep making strides in this direction, staying focused and continuing to come together over the rest of the season. It's not going to be easy by any means, there is a lot of great competition out there, but we have some fantastic coaches in place who put a lot of time and effort into our team and they are getting us ready for what we'll face with the rest of the season.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”