While the inaugural season for the Okotoks Lady Outlawz in the Western Women's Canadian Football League resulted in the typical expansion woes, offensive lineman Tammy Holunga emerged as one of the team’s building blocks. Holunga has worked tirelessly, participating in fund-raising and charitable events and administering a fan page through social media.
Despite a winless season, Holunga reflected on the season with great dignity and maturity. The learning experiences of the inaugural season led to many difficult one-sided losses, unforeseen challenges and extensive injuries, but it only helped serve to bring the team closer together.
“This first season in the WWCFL has been very eye-opening," she said. "We had many tough battles, but as a team pulled together and made it through each one. Although each game was a difficult loss, I personally did not expect to be at the top just yet, especially when we were the new team on the block.”
With her husband Greg serving as an offensive line coach, it only enriched the experience of suiting up for the expansion franchise. To be able to share her first WWCFL season with him was a cherished opportunity that helped to overshadow the frustrations that come with losing.
“It was pretty awesome that my husband was an offensive line coach, even more so that I played on the offensive line, so he was my coach as well," she said. "He knows probably a little more even than everything there is to know about football, so I was excited to have him as our coach. It was easy to put on the player helmet and take off the wife one when we were on the field.”
For Holunga, the opportunity to bond with her teammates truly helped foster a sense of friendship for the budding franchise. Many of the women on the squad had never played football before, so the team experienced tremendous growth together. Part of that growth turned out to be her favorite moment of the season.
“My favorite moment of the season would have to be actually off the field at the grand opening of our training centre," she said. "The majority of the team was there. We were able to have some fun and bond off the field, really get to know one another. It is times like these that really bring things together on the field.”
Holunga has three sons that plays football, so her experiences on the gridiron helped to bring the family even closer. Several of Holunga’s teammates have sons that also play minor football, so the feeling of family and friendship ran strong throughout the season. With football a big part of Holunga’s family life, the chance to actually play in front of her sons was a rewarding and satisfying feeling.
“I have three boys all playing football and they were all pretty excited to see their mom in full gear," she said. "I had expected them to be more into the game, but they all have friends of the other moms playing on the team. They were playing with each other more than watching us. They were all very proud of their mom to be so brave and strong to play against these other ladies...and some of them were very large in stature!”
All quotes obtained first hand.