It's an early spring evening and a professional football team practices. Passes zip crisply from the quarterback into the waiting hands of a receiver. This is the Indiana Speed, wholly comprised of female players. The Speed, founded in 2002 after teams such as the Vipers and Chaos came and went, competes in the WFA (Women's Football Alliance).
These women play an extremely physical brand of football. Injuries are commonplace: At a recent game, a player for the opposing team (The St. Louis Slam) broke her leg. The break was so bad the game had to be stopped, and an ambulance was summoned.
According to head coach Sam Wood, the players play like a veteran team, despite the fact that they have many newcomers. "We have 22 rookies, and they are all playing hard for us," he states.
Strength and conditioning coach Terrance Crumpton knows about playing hard. Crumpton was "Cobra" on the television show American Gladiators. The team's exceptional conditioning can be credited in part to his efforts. "I wanted them to lose weight and gain strength," says Crumpton.
Mission accomplished, according to Speed co-owner Doug Franklin: "Most of the teams in our league are out of gas by the first half, but our girls are still going."
Speed players work a variety of jobs. Quarterback Cassie Longcore works for Cintas as a delivery driver. She joined the team because she has always loved football. "When I realized that there was a league for women, I was excited," says Longcore.
Eileen Grosvenor (or "Lil-Bit" as her teammates call her), a cornerback for the team, works at a husky rescue center. "I take care of the dogs that have been deemed unadoptable for various reasons," says Grosvenor. Other occupations include that of chemistry teacher (offensive lineman Kylee List), cook (Asia "Big Baby" Morgan), web developer (Kiva Thomas), and 20-year veterinary technician (Chris Stringfellow, who has been featured in many veterinary magazines).
Not only must these women work regular jobs, they must pay $500 dollars a season in order to play, and make only $1 dollar a game. (This small sum is given to the players so that they can receive a tax write-off.) Obviously, they are not playing for the money, but for an unbridled love for the game.
"I've wanted to play football since high school," says Jill Meinhold, a right tackle for the team.
Coaching women has its advantages, according to coach Wood. "They're more willing to be coached, because for many this is their first experience with football," says Wood, a Fed-Ex employee. "These ladies do the weight room exercises. They watch the film. They do all the things men do, and they play a good brand of football."
Any stereotype about women not being able to play the game as well as men is unfounded, according to 3-year veteran, Lisa Sklar. "Just because it's females doesn't mean anything; on the field it's not about women, it's not about men, it's just about football," states Sklar.
Speed vs. Cincinnati Sizzle
Saturday, May 22, 7 p.m.
Park Tudor High School
Tickets; $15/$12 for seniors and military; children under 10, free