Seattle Majestics are tackle stereotypes

Wide receiver Karlene Clapp of Kent reaches to catch a pass during a Seattle Majestics practice last month. As the state’s only all-women tackle football team, the Majestics draw players from all over the area. They went 8-0 during the regular season before losing to Dallas in the conference final last week. - Matt Brashears/For the Mirror
Wide receiver Karlene Clapp of Kent reaches to catch a pass during a Seattle Majestics practice last month. As the state’s only all-women tackle football team, the Majestics draw players from all over the area. They went 8-0 during the regular season before losing to Dallas in the conference final last week.
— image credit: Matt Brashears/For the Mirror

Women’s tackle football team ends season with loss to Dallas in conference final

Campy Campolo doesn’t always have the best view of the football action. By design, someone’s often right in her way.

But when she does get a clear glimpse of what’s going on, Campolo can’t help but go, ‘Wow.’

“Watching our receivers make amazing catches – I’m not very talented at catching the ball, so to see them reach up over their shoulders and catch it and run 40 yards is amazing,” the 24-year-old Auburn woman said. “But I know how to run into people.”

That’s why she doesn’t always have a wide-open look. Campolo – who just finished a community college automotives degree and played softball and tennis at Jefferson High School – is a fullback. And an outside linebacker.

And a woman.

Those receivers who make the amazing catches? They’re women, too. So is the quarterback who throws the ball, the running backs who carry it, and the players on the line who do the down-in-the-trenches dirty work.

All of them are part of the Seattle Majestics, whose roster is dotted with players from Federal Way, Kent, Auburn, Renton, and indeed from all as Washington’s only all-female tackle football team.

“There’s always something happening that’s awesome,” said 24-year-old Jackie Salguet, a Kent resident who plays on the line for the Majestics and who is getting ready to leave for another tour of duty in Iraq near the end of this month. “I played football in high school in Japan. I was always into playing sports. In baseball, I was a pitcher and catcher. And I was the only female on the team.”

That’s definitely not the case with the Majestics, a member of the Independent Women’s Football League, which practiced twice a week at French Field on the Kent-Meridian High School campus, went 8-0 during the regular season and opened the playoffs with a convincing 35-0 victory against the Corvallis Pride last month.

The Majestics’ season ended last weekend with a 38-6 loss to the Dallas Diamonds in the Western Conference final at Seattle’s Memorial Stadium.

Three of the players – Camille Head, Heather Gallemore and Michel Volk – also own the team. One of the few male presences is head coach Mike Talley, who has taught and helped coach football at Hazen High in Renton.

“One of the players’ boyfriends went to Hazen, and he got in contact with me,” Talley said. “He asked me if I wanted to (be the coach), and I said no. So he asked me to come out and watch one day.”

Talley did, and his coaching adrenaline quickly rose to the surface.

“I couldn’t keep my mouth shut,” he said with a grin.

The Majestics certainly have plenty to talk about. Their 8-0 regular-season record included five shutouts. They outscored the opposition in those eight games, 174-27.

But it’s about more than wins, losses and points.

Much more.

Options on the table

Sports doors of every kind have swung open to women during the past four decades. Time was when they didn’t have pole vaulting or triple jumping in track. They didn’t have hockey. They didn’t have wrestling.

They do today.

Now, football is finding its place in an ever expanding banquet of athletic options.

“I played soccer and softball. And when we moved to Utah, I did volleyball, basketball and track,” said 39-year-old Heidi Corey of Kent, originally from California. “I grew up watching UCLA football with my dad.

“I definitely would have played football.”

Corey, who plays primarily on the defensive line, is in her second year with the team. When she’s not donning the pads and helmet, she works security at various events. (The team also has a scientist, a sports therapist and a couple of firefighters, among other occupations.)

And while most people might raise eyebrows at the notion of a woman playing football, Corey got just the opposite reaction from her acquaintances.

“They said, ‘Yes, it fits you perfectly,” said Corey, who recalls her favorite football moment vividly: her quarterback sack, which came in a game against the Sacramento Sirens.

“I came right onto the quarterback, right over the top of her,” Corey said. “All you could see was her eyes. She didn’t last too long the rest of the game.”

Gallemore, a 34-year-old Renton resident who ran cross country and track and played basketball at Hazen, is in her seventh year with the team and was, in fact, one of its founders. A multi-talented player – she can be found at defensive end, tight end, wide receiver or long snapper – Gallemore has grown to love the game so much that she literally bought into it two years ago.

“The biggest thing is just taking over this team as one of the co-owners,” Gallemore said of her partnership with Head and Volk. “It’s a fantastic experience. The old owner said, ‘I can’t do this anymore, I’m walking away.’ So the three of us threw our feet in and said, ‘We can do this.’

Suffice to say that football – as a player or owner – wasn’t even close to being on her radar as she grew up.

“Then I met someone tiny who played tackle football, and came to a practice. And I haven’t been able to step away from it,” Gallemore said.

Head, a 33-year-old Renton resident who works for a company that helps provide simulator training at Boeing, has come to embrace the game that always has piqued her interest, but didn’t provide much opportunity. Now, she’s in her third year as a player and her second as a co-owner.

“I’m just glad to do something that I always wanted to do,” said Head, a wide receiver and free safety who did soccer and cross country as a high schooler in Indiana. “I’m not that big of a person (she’s listed at 5-foot-4, 120 pounds on the team’s Web site), so people were a little concerned. But I grew up loving the game.”

Eager students of the game

Talley sounds like a guy who clearly is in his element as coach. Different gender makes no difference at all, as far as he’s concerned.

“Football is football. Coaching is teaching,” Talley said. “The veterans have some knowledge, and the new ones haven’t played before and don’t have any bad habits yet. So I’m teaching them from ground zero.”

The combination seems to have clicked.

“They play together,” Talley said. “We’ve had some pretty tough games. But in order to get where you want to go, you have to have tough games. In Corvallis (on June 14 in the regular-season finale), we were down 7-0. It’s the first time all season we’ve been behind.”

The Majestics rallied to win, 16-7, then completely dominated the Pride on June 14. That set up the playoff contest against the Dallas Diamonds.

With this group, though, final scores are just part of the story.

“I like the contact, the fact that you can go out and get out your aggressions on the field and still remain friends with all the other people on the team,” Kent’s Corey said.

Added Head, “It’s kind of like a big family of talented athletes who play together as a team.”

A team which – so far, anyway – has had quite a view from the top of the women’s football world.

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