The Mile High Blaze offense lines up for the final play of the game May 27, 2017, in a 77-0 win over the Utah Blitz at Shea Stadium in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Photo by Mountain Dog Photography–MOUNTAINDOGPhotography@yahoo.com.
There’s a new orange and blue in Denver, and they are blazing a trail in women’s tackle football, setting records for most points scored in a game, holding opponents to 0 points in the regular season, and remaining undefeated as they head into the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) American Conference championship game.
Mile High Blaze set a Woman’s Football Alliance record May 27, 2017, with most points scored in a game, defeating the Utah Blitz 77-0 at Shea Stadium in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Photo by Angelita Foster–firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mile High Blaze joined the league in 2014, and struggled the first two seasons.
“The first year was tough, and the second year we were eliminated from the playoffs,” Wyndy Flato-Dominy said. “Last season we made it to the playoffs with only 18 players, and this year has been a great year for the team, with 45 players.”
Flato-Dominy has been the general manager for the team for the last two seasons and said that these female athletes are passionate about the sport and devoted to the team.
“The team practices three times a week, including film review, conditioning and then going over the playbook and depth charts,” Flato-Dominy said.
The WFA is a semi-pro league. There are no team buses, no free equipment, no catered team meals, and no paycheck. In fact, players pay to play. Teams raise money in a variety of ways, to make up for what the fees don’t cover.
“Most teams like us are lucky enough to find sponsors that help with some of the costs, and for what sponsors don’t cover, we hold bake sales and car washes and whatever else we can think of,” Flato-Dominy said.
The Blaze is hard-hitting, helmet-on-helmet entertaining. So what motivates these women — nurses, grandmothers, police officers — to pay to get on the field and fight for every yard each week?
For some it’s to prove something to themselves, and for others it’s to prove something to the next generation of girls and boys.
Veteran player Ty Lowery, who has been with the team since its inception, is no stranger to the game of football. As a girl, Lowery played as a wide receiver and a corner back on her junior high school team.
“I was the only girl on the team — a little tomboy — but it just seemed natural for me to play on the boys team,” Lowery said. “It didn’t feel like I was treated any differently since most of the time people did’t even know I was a girl.”
Lowery, who supports the Blaze offense as a quarterback and as wide receiver, was once a point guard for the University of Denver and was ranked 12th in defensive steals in a tough NCAA Division I school.
“A lot of us were athletes,” Lowery said. “Once you finish college and you have nothing else to do, you are drawn to other women who also have a passion. We love football so much that we are willing to pay to play.”
Rookie player and defensive tackle Maddy Fauth was also a high school athlete at Grandview High School and said that sports helped her learn how to be a team player, and gain the mental aptitude to overcome struggles.
“With football, there is such a different dynamic I never experienced before, and the trust you have to have in football has been very different,” Fauth said. “It definitely took a lot more commitment, mentally, to figure out what is going on out on the field and then executing my position.”
One sentiment that echoes throughout the Blaze team is that women can play football and that, not only does gender not matter, but there is a place for every female who wants to play.
“Being on this team, I have gained 40 other women who help and support me to succeed, and to push me to move forward on the field and in life,” Fauth said. “What’s so great about women’s football is that no matter what your size is, or what your body type is, or even your athletic ability, there is a spot for you in football.”