Sports

Seattle Majestics: Real women, playing real football

By STEVE HUNTER

For the Mirror

Kent is the new home of yet another Seattle sports team.

The Seattle Majestics of the Independent Women’s Football League, will play four games this season at French Field at Kent-Meridian High School after three years at Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center. The Majestics open the season against the Corvallis Pride at 7 p.m. April 11 at French Field, 10200 S.E. 256th St.

“It worked out to be more economical to come to Kent and get the community behind us,” said Camille Head, co-owner of the Majestics, who also plays wide receiver and defensive back. “We had one game at French Field last year and we had a crowd bigger than what we had at Memorial Stadium. I think people will enjoy not having to go downtown to park.”

The Seattle Thunderbirds junior hockey team moved in January to the ShoWare Center in Kent from KeyArena. The Seattle Mist of the new Lingerie Football League announced earlier this month home games on Sept. 11 and Jan. 1 at the ShoWare Center.

But the Majestics, who play in the same gear as their male counterparts, are nothing like the lingerie-suited Mist.

“I think that’s not football,” said Kasey Rivas, 31, of Kent, a middle linebacker in her fifth year with the Majestics. “It can’t compare to us. We play competitive football with full gear and under NFL rules. We do it for sport. They do it for entertainment.”

The Majestics feature a 42-player roster, which includes numerous players from Federal Way. More than 80 women tried out for the team last fall. Each woman pays about $1,000 to play to help cover the costs of stadium rental, officials, travel and equipment.

The players work regular jobs during the day, everything from police officers to Boeing workers to even a University of Washington research scientist. Most of the players are in their 20s or early 30s and live throughout the Puget Sound area. The team practices twice a week at French Field. Home and road games are played on Saturdays from April 11 through June 13.

“I always loved football,” said Rivas, who grew up in Lake Stevens. “I used to play with the boys at recess. We always had football on TV on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I grew up around it and always wanted to play.”

Head and co-owner Heather Gallemore, also a player, bought the Majestics three years ago in order to keep the team going after the previous owner moved on. The Majestics organize fundraisers and try to find as many sponsors as possible to keep the team operating.

“This year it’s been difficult because of the state of the economy,” Head said about finding sponsors. “There’s not a lot of extra money to spend. But we’ve seen an increase in ticket sales.”

The Majestics drew nearly 1,000 fans to their one game at French Field last season. The crowds in Seattle averaged 600 to 1,200.

“I’m really excited,” Rivas said of the move to Kent. “We played one game there last season and that was my favorite home game. It was more intimate than Memorial Stadium. We had a great crowd that was loud. And we also practice there.”

With Kent, a city of 86,000, as their new home, the Majestics expect a better fit than playing games in Seattle.

“I think we can get the community behind us,” Head said. “We like the smallness of the community. I think it will support the girls.”

The Independent Women’s Football League was founded in 2000 and features more than 40 teams and 1,600 players across the nation. Last year, the league became part of USA Football, the governing body for youth and amateur football. Jack Kemp, former U.S. Congressman and quarterback in the 1960s for the Buffalo Bills, serves as Chairman of the board for USA Football.

“That legitimizes the sport,” Head said of the new partnership.

The Majestics won the Northwest Division last year with an 8-0 record. They won their first playoff game before losing to Dallas in the Western Conference title game. Dallas advanced to win the national title. Corvallis, Portland, Sacramento and Tucson are on the regular-season schedule this year.

“We are one of the hardest-hitting teams in the league,” Head said.

Among the key players for the Majestics are Rivas, a 5-foot-3, 220-pound middle linebacker and most valuable player of the team in 2008; Rachel Gore, a 5-7, 145-pound running back and defensive back; and Crystal Sanderson, a 5-6, 165-pound running back.

The Majestics run the ball about 65 percent of the plays, Head said.

With a strong group of rookies joining the veterans, Rivas predicts another outstanding season.

“We should repeat as Northwest champions and make a run for the national championship,” Rivas said.

For more information on women’s football, go to www.theseattlemajestics.com or www.iwflsports.com

IF YOU GO

What: Seattle Majestics women’s football

When: 7 p.m. April 11

Where: Kent's French Field, 10200 S.E. 256th St.

Tickets: $12 adults; $10 senior citizens, students; $5 ages 6-12; free, ages 5 and under.

SCHEDULE

April 11 vs. Corvallis Pride

April 18 at Portland Shockwave

April 25 vs. Sacramento Sirens

May 9 vs. Portland Shockwave

May 16 at Sacramento (Calif.) Sirens

May 23 at Corvallis (Ore.) Pride

June 6 vs. Portland Shockwave

June 13 at Tucson (Ariz.) Monsoon

*All home games 7 p.m. at French Field, 10200 S.E. 256th St.

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