I've always loved football. The tomboy in me had a talent for passing, kicking, and catching. I thought I had what it took.
But Pop Warner (the youth football association), let alone pro-football for women, wasn't a reality back then. We've come a long way. Women's professional football is now alive and well. Two major leagues boast 3,000 women in 67 cities nationwide. Eighty teams vie for the all-time prize, Superbowl of Championships.
Enter Chicago's Force, the Independent Women's Football League's one undefeated team, vying for ultimate bragging rights. They pound, they pummel. They play hard.
Their coach, Jim Stahl, who has coached college ball, says they're stronger than the guys. I believe him. Take one look at their moves on the field, and they're fearless. They've suffered sprains, tears, concussions – and many keep on playing.
That's what Quarterback Sami Grisafe did when her finger got snarled in an opponent's face mask. She said: "Whatever it takes to win."
She's not alone. At 46, team owner Linda Bache is the oldest player on the team and loves every minute of it. "I never had an opportunity to play on any level," she says.
This is her chance. And I took mine. That tomboy suited up in pads and cleats and took to the playing field. I told them not to go easy on me, but if they hadn't, I'm not sure I'd be blogging right now.
I can still pass, and kick, and throw. But I can't take a hit. And within five minutes, I was completely out of breath. You've got to respect these women. They play with passion and brute force, just like the guys.
If anyone believes a woman's place isn't on the gridiron, I dare them to tell these ladies face to face.