There is a distinct group of women that blends in with society throughout the day. Some of these ladies patrol the streets as law enforcement, firefighters and college professors, while others work at, manage and even own businesses. But, what they do in the evenings is uncommon; they play football, tackle football.
“There are a lot of ladies that get after it like the men do,” said Darold Williams, the Daytona Waverunners head coach. “If their hair wasn’t hanging out of their helmets, you might forget that there are women out there playing.”
The Daytona Waverunners, a semiprofessional women’s tackle football team in the Women's Football Alliance, has played three games in its inaugural season. For most of the ladies, they are playing football for the first time in their lives, but for those like Taylor Wood, though she wasn’t getting tackled, she’s been around the game for a while.
“I grew up playing with my brothers,” the 5 feet 3 inch 115-pound receiver said. “I also played flag football in high school, so I’m pretty familiar with football. I’ve been an athlete all my life.”
Wood, a cook at the Panda Express, is one of the smallest players on the field, but her speed, which she inherited from her mother, a former track star, allows her to avoid dangerous hits and make big plays for her team. She found out about the women’s tackle league, when she overheard a player talking about tryouts, as she rode on the bus.
“I never thought there would be a league like this,” Wood added. “I just came out a while back, tried out and I’ve been here ever since.”
While the game seems to come easy for Wood, that isn’t the case for everyone, according to Williams.
“A lot of the guys that play football have been playing since Pee Wee League,” he said. “Having to coach the ladies and teach them the rules of the game are some of the hardest things for us coaches.”
On top of a fulltime job and learning a new sport, most of the players are moms. While their moms practice and play under the night lights on game day, some of the kids and significant others cheer and root from the stands, while some get close to the action on the sideline, a few even running up and down the field as ball boys.
A great factor about playing for the Waverunners, according to Wood, are the many connections on the team. Because so many opportunities are represented, either teammates help other teammates with various issues, or they always know someone who can assist.
Because they are still in their infancy, the Daytona Waverunners are still recruiting and holding open tryouts for any ladies that want to potentially fulfill a dream. For more information, call 259-0524 or visit daytonawaverunners.com.
BOX: The Daytona Waverunners were taken down against the Jacksonville Dixie Blues, losing on Saturday, April, 25, at Municipal Stadium.
The Waverunners got first-half sparks from Taylor Wood, who intercepted her first pass of the season and returned it for a short gain. She also caught a 70-yard touchdown pass from Shambria Green, and just before halftime, caught a ball at midfield, shook off a defender, and sprinted down the sideline for 70 yards until she was brought down inside the five-yard line. Devon Miller finished the drive with a short field goal as time expired for the Waverunners other points.
Daytona’s next home game will be against Miami Fury Saturday, May 9, at Municipal Stadium.