Competing as a quarterback for the Calgary Rage in the Western Women's Canadian Football League, Jordan Chappell brings a love of the game that is unparalleled. Having grown up as a fan of the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders, her interest in football was groomed at a young age.
“My family and I have been going to Calgary Stampeders games for as long as I can remember," Chappell said. "I think I started to go to the games when I was about 10 or so and have continued to do so for the love of the game and the team.”
With superstars such as Allen Pitts, Dave Dickenson, Alondra Johnson, Jay McNeil and Henry Burris donning the Stampeders jersey, Chappell saw them all compete over the years.
The opportunity to satisfy her craving for competing on the gridiron was satisfied when she joined the Rage.
Although the most difficult aspect of competing on offense is absorbing the punishing hits distributed by the defense, Chappell has not suffered any significant injuries. She will be the first to acknowledge the contribution of her offensive line, anchored by the likes of Cindy Barnett, Megan Guest, Crystal Pellerin and Venessa Stuppard.
“I have not gotten any injuries, thankfully," she said. "Also, being quarterback (and a backup quarterback at that), I have not actually seen a whole lot of action in regards to tackling and being tackled (all thanks to our amazing offensive line). The only "injuries" I've really had to deal with are bruises and sore muscles.”
As the backup quarterback to Erin Walton (a member of the Canadian National Team), Chappell employs a first-team approach by playing other positions on offense as well. The commitment to versatility is what makes Chappell such a unique member of the squad’s offense.
“Along with quarterbacking, I also play wide receiver and if absolutely needed running back. When I first came to training camp for Rage, wide receiver was the position I had hoped to get and, even though I'm mainly quarterbacking, I am pleased that I get the opportunity to do a bit of receiving as well.
In playing the quarterback position, Chappell understands it is one of the most demanding roles in football. Even in a backup capacity, she is obligated to comprehend the playbook.
It is a role that she accepts with the type of maturity that helps to strengthen any locker room’s culture.
“Quarterback is a difficult position to play," Chappell said. "You have to know what everyone is doing and what to do if something does not go as planned. Before games I will plug in my headphones and listen to some calming music (as opposed to pump-up music).
I look over the playbook, as well as prepare myself mentally for the task ahead. Also, not over-thinking things and not getting flustered are big things that I have to try and remind myself before and during games and practices.”
Part of what makes Chappell such a great teammate is her positive attitude. In understanding her role on the team, she also grasps the true essence of sport; it should also incorporate a sense of play and recreation.
“Like most any exercise, I find that it is a great way to relieve stress," she said. "For a little while, you forget about your troubles and stresses. With perseverance and determination, one can do just about anything they put their mind to.”
As a lifelong football fan, the first time that she donned the Calgary Rage uniform was one of great pride for her. When asked what the highlight in her career was, being allocated a uniform and equipment for her first-ever practice was the culmination of a goal now reached,
“It was probably when we received our football equipment for the first practice of the season. I was ecstatic and nervous at the same time. I had dreamed of being able to play football, and Rage gave me the opportunity to live that dream.
Also, stepping out onto the field, whether it is a practice or a game, always gives me a surge of pride and excitement, to be a part of such an amazing group of ladies and to play a sport that I love."
One of the unique aspects of the Rage and the WWCFL in general is the fact that there are women from all ages and backgrounds.
Complemented by the fact that many women in the league are also mothers, it makes the experience of competing even more special for Chappell.
“Yes, I believe it does," she said. "I feel that it makes the players come to respect each other a great deal more, and it helps to build good relationships between the players, while still keeping the competition high. It gives the teams and the league a diversity that you do not see much anywhere else.”
As interest in the game and the league continues to grow, so too will the curiosity among women pondering participation. With the Grande Prairie, Alberta, area featuring high-school football for girls, the future is now.
After asking Chappell if she had any advice for girls or women thinking about playing, she said the following.
“Football is a game of physical and mental toughness. It is a contact sport, and getting hurt is a possibility, but that has never deterred me from playing. Many times I thought to myself, ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’ ‘What did I get myself into?’ and ‘I can't do this.'
Yet, I persevered and pushed myself, because I love this game, and now that I've finally gotten the chance to play, I couldn't see myself doing anything else. As much as I love volleyball and other sports, it is just not as fun and challenging as football.”
All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated