Alex Black Emerges as Premier Franchise Player in MWFL

Mark Staffieri@@MarkStaff100Contributor IIMay 28, 2013

Black in action against the Moncton Vipers (image from Roy Crawford Photography)
Black in action against the Moncton Vipers (image from Roy Crawford Photography)

One of the youngest stars in the Maritime Women’s Football League, Alex Black’s star shines brightly. Employing great maturity, Black conducts herself with all the confidence of a veteran. Her bravura and enthusiasm for the game are evident.

With a league-record seven consecutive MWFL All-Star nods, Black is the portrait of consistency and peak performance. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Black began competing in the MWFL as a junior in high school. Hailing from Yoho Lake, New Brunswick, her superlative ability to accomplish perfect execution on the gridiron gives the Capital Area Lady Gladiators the opportunity to win any game.

While Black is rewriting the record books of the MWFL, she had the opportunity to take part in a unique chapter of Canadian women’s sporting history. When the first-ever Women’s Tackle Football World Championships were held in 2010, Black was part of the Canadian contingent.

In a silver-medal effort with Canada, Black was part of a watershed moment for women in football, shattering barriers in a traditionally male-dominated sport. The opportunity to take part in such a historic event is a great point of pride for her.

Being a part of something that was nonexistent growing up is amazing. I am honored to be a part of this exciting time for women. The fact that there are other women here in Canada and internationally playing a traditionally male dominant sport and share my passion is a great feeling. I feel like we are opening up doors for the sport to continue to grow and gaining momentum to receive worldwide recognition.

Although her first exposure to athletics came at the age of four when she participated in soccer, Black’s interest would gravitate towards football. Having competed on the gridiron since she was nine years old, Black has grown with the sport. She is quick to attribute the support of her parents and the respect of past coaches as the foundation in her storied career.

My first major exposure to sport was soccer when I was four, and I loved it. During one summer flyers were handed out at one of my practices for the Capital Area Minor Football Association and it caught my attention.

My dad is a football fan and I gained more interest and understanding from him in the beginning. Both my parents were very supportive. I was hooked on the sport right away. Growing up I had amazing coaches who treated me like an athlete and not a "girl on their team." I am thankful for their support and time to this day.

Like many women in football, Black is a star in multiple sports. She competed with the New Brunswick provincial soccer team, along with the Premiership team. In 2006, she earned a bronze medal in Aliant New Brunswick, while grabbing a second-place finish in 2008. She also competed as a striker for the University of New Brunswick women’s soccer team.

Before her university career began, Black had already accumulated a number of sporting accolades, testaments to her athletic skill. In 2007, she participated in Black Kats JV boys' football. As a senior in high school (2007-08), she was the MVP of her high school’s basketball, soccer and volleyball teams. For her efforts, she was recognized as her high school's Senior Athlete of the Year.

Training with the Fredericton Legion Track Club in her teens, Black harnessed her skills in javelin and shot put. At the 2009 Canada Summer Games in Prince Edward Island, she competed in javelin as part of the New Brunswick provincial team of athletes.

At the university level, Black has supplied many memorable performances in the shot put. For the week of February 28, 2012, she was recognized as UNB’s Female Athlete of the Week. This was in recognition of her gold medal at the 2012 AUS Championships, where she threw for a distance of 12.38 meters.  

Almost one year to the date (February 25, 2013), Black would make her presence felt. In her final year of university eligibility with the Reds, she would grab the gold medal in the shot put with a dazzling distance of 12.58 meters.

Not only did she break the longest standing Atlantic University Sport record (of 30 years), but it also surpassed the New Brunswick provincial record (having stood for 11 years). Of note, the victory marked her third consecutive AUS title.

Breaking a 30-year-old New Brunswick and AUS record was an incredible feeling as an athlete. Like any sport, you have to put the time in to get what you want out of it. Knowing that after my five years of eligibility, the time I put in paid off in a great way.

On March 9, 2013, she would rank 11th at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport track and field championships in Edmonton, Alberta. Unfortunately, her longest throw was 12.07 meters, making her unable to qualify for the finals. Black would settle for an 11th-place finish, while ending her stint as the greatest female shot putter in New Brunswick sporting history. 

The support of my coach Mark Sheehan helped me to prepare as well as my teammates and other UNB coaching staff throughout my career as a Varsity Red. When it all came together at my last competition on my sixth and final throw, it was a thrill and a very proud moment.

During the 2012 MWLF season, she led the Capital Area Lady Gladiators to their second consecutive appearance in the league’s title game (known as the SupHer Bowl). While the Lady Gladiators were bested by the underdog Moncton Vipers by an astounding 49-42 score, Black always makes her team championship contenders.

Having won several awards in her storied career, there is no question that Black is a leader for her squad. Quite possibly, the greatest female athlete that New Brunswick ever produced, every time Black graces the football field, it is an opportunity to witness a legend in the making. While she has managed to dazzle fans, coaches and peers alike, she is very humble about that leadership role.

I feel very humble as an athlete to know that my coaches and fellow teammates have recognized me in that way. I guess I see myself as a quiet leader for women and young females who want to pursue football or any other sport.

In addition to her storied athletic career, Black has also stepped onto the other side of the athletic realm and served as a coach. Having coached youth volleyball and soccer, it has brought great reward to the articulate Black.

The coaching experience I have received has shed great light on how to take on athletes who are young and developing new skills and gradually building them into strong, confident players or participants. It has been amazing for me to see growth that can be accomplished with good planning, patients and understanding on how kids develop physically and mentally.

I view my time as a coach as educational for myself as for the kids I work with- this has also heightened my awareness on how differentiated educational coaching makes a big difference in working with children. A smiling face on the field, athletes setting goals and achieving them, asking for my practice time- tells me I have done what I have set out to do and I am looking forward to building my coaching repertoire.

As one of 16 women from the 2010 squad (five were reserves) who were named to the 2013 Canadian National Team, Black is hoping that her experiences will contribute to a glorious golden finish in Finland. While Black lines up behind center in the MWFL, she will be displaying her remarkable athletic versatility as a wide receiver for Canada. In asking what it will take for Canada to win the gold at the 2013 Women’s Tackle Football Championships, she replied,

Tom Brady. (Laughs.) All jokes aside, the Americans, like all other teams we face, will have the experience of playing nationally and some internationally. There is no doubt the other teams will be just as knowledgeable, strong and well coached. I have a lot of respect for all other teams participating.

I believe that the team that has been selected to represent Canada is smart, and a solid group of females. It is important that we come together as a team. We need to know our playbooks inside and out. We need to be able to adapt quickly to our opponent and make our opponents question their own strategy.

We will resolve our weaknesses quickly so that we can come out on top. It has to be a good combination of collaboration between coaches, and also coaches to players. Most importantly, the belief that we can win a gold medal for Canada needs to be first and foremost on everybody’s mind. That is our one common goal.

All quotes obtained first-hand unless otherwise indicated.