While the expansion Okotoks Lady Outlawz still undergo their first season woes in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, Tegan Donnelly represents a bright future ahead. As one of the younger players on the squad, she is a lifelong football fan who is enthusiastic about being able to step onto the gridiron.
“I grew up watching football and I've always loved the sport. Yet, I really fell in love a couple years back when I became really good friends with a bunch of guys who played. I used to go out and throw the ball around with them, and they would always tell me that I had a good arm and I should consider playing. I'm still not sure whether or not they meant it... but here I am!!!”
As one of the younger players on the team, Donnelly is quick to notice the unique dynamic on the team. With a blend of younger and older players, along with several mothers competing, there is a unique feeling of family on the expansion Lady Outlawz. She admires the dedication and perseverance required to compete.
“Honestly, I look up to all the ladies who dedicate their time to come and play. Especially the ones that are juggling kids, a job, and who knows what else. There is something in each and every one of them that I admire.”
“Since I've joined the team it's like I've gained twenty something new moms, and I look up to every one of them. Best of all, they are all so different but they all have a fierce determination when it comes to football.”
With great determination, Donnelly wanted to prove any doubters wrong and state that she would not be finished after one hit. The negative comments that were sent in her direction were used as motivation. Employing the heart of a lion, Donnelly has shown the courage needed to excel on the gridiron.
"I must explain that it was a couple of my guy friends who said that. They thought that girls had no place in football, which just left me frustrated and even more determined to play. So it means a lot that I am able to prove them wrong. I'm not a pathetic, helpless girl. I will do what needs to be done in order to finish what I started, and if that means putting my body on the line, then so be it.”
“I was determined not to be finished after the first hit, but of course I had no idea what would happen. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think that hitting and being hit is honestly the best part (maybe I've been hit too many times). There is nothing as satisfying as making a solid tackle.”
While the Lady Outlawz have been unable to win their first game in franchise history, morale has stayed upbeat. Despite the setbacks, Donnelly keeps the losing streak in perspective. With great maturity, Donnelly acknowledges that there have been mistakes, but she is determined to ensure they are not repeated. In asking Donnelly, what she does to stay positive, she replied:
“Easy. I live from play to play. In my opinion, it is essential to forget about what happened in the past, whether it was a bad play or a lost game. I just keep moving forward. The past two games have honestly made me more determined than ever.”
“I know I've made mistakes on the field, but I will do my best not to let them happen again. I treat everything as a learning experience. It is easy to stay positive when I am surrounded by such a fabulous and supportive group of ladies, and such wonderful coaches.”
Having accomplished a dream by playing football, Donnelly has become one of many pioneers in Western Canada who have helped lay the foundation for a healthy future of professional women’s football. For any young women that have considered playing football, Donnelly offers the following advice:
“Don't knock it until you try it. It is amazing. I have played many sports, and I have never felt the same way before. There is nothing that can compare to the way you feel when you are out on that field.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”