The Bay Area Bandits’ organization was founded by a group of five players who wanted to prove that a women’s football team in the San Francisco Bay Area could be successfully managed, sustained and positively integrated into the community. The mission of the Bay Area Bandits is to afford its members an opportunity to play tackle football, a sport not traditionally offered to women, in an organized, life-enriching manner that promotes teamwork, discipline and dedication, while fostering the skills and knowledge necessary to compete nationally.
SZ: The Bay Area Bandits women’s football team began in 2008. How many players were on the original roster and how many players does the team have today?
Bandits: We started with nearly 68 women who tried out and carried 45 players on the roster for the inaugural 2010 season. In 2011 we began the season with 45 women on the roster.
SZ: How would an interested player learn about where and when try-outs are held?
Bandits: There are try-outs each year for both returning and new players. These try-outstypically run between September and December, which is during our mini-camp training period. Interested players can learn about our try-outs by visiting our website or via the hundreds of information fliers that are passed out while recruiting prospective players. Our advertisements are typically via free or low-cost media and word of mouth.
SZ: I read that the Women’s Football Alliance which has leagues across the nation is owned by Jeff and Lisa King, and has grown to over sixty teams for the 2011 season.
What are other features of women’s football that readers are probably not aware of?
* Women’s football has been in the U.S. since 2000.
*It’s a league where the women pay to play.
*Several teams nationwide participate in philanthropic youth programs such as,
- Women’s football is an international sport.
- Approximately 30% of the money spent for a single football season is given back to local schools and city parks and recreation departments.
SZ: What are some of the qualities that attract women to participate in football as a sport for health and well-being?
Bandit (Jen Romanini): Football is an opportunity to play a sport that has never been offered to women. It’s a chance to be involved in a team sport and experience the challenge of playing a sport that requires physical aggression.
Bandit (Julia Jalalat): Love for the game gives me the motivation to keep going and push harder during the most mentally challenging and physically strenuous moments during games and while conditioning.
Bandit (Cori Evans): The qualities that attracted me to participate in women’s football include the opportunity to compete beyond collegiate athletics. The challenge to succeed in a new sport that I love and dreamed of playing.
Bandit (Sandra Hernandez): Many women are attracted to being part of a team a unit. Many athletes have experienced that sense of camaraderie and want to feel “a part” of something again. The great physical conditioning is definitely attractive and a physical sense of accomplishment.
SZ: What are some of the physical and mental skill sets that are useful for players to have or acquire who wish to compete on a women’s football team?
Bandit (Jen Romanini): The more physically fit and strong the player the more likely the player will find success playing the game. Physical skill sets range from speed, agility and power to brute strength, endurance, athletic skill and coordination. The skills that prove to be more useful are mental. Work ethic, drive, determination, leadership and the ability to work with others, trust. Much of what a player does on the field affects the rest of the team. Understanding that a players individual success comes from and contributes to the teams success is a crucial key in enjoying and finding success in this sport.
Bandit (Danielle Golay): The mental toughness that is needed to play this sport is something that is ultimately needed for any player to be great. A big heart, a great work ethic, and the desire to continue to become better are also great traits for a player.
SZ: Does the team have a quote, motto or story that expresses the team’s culture and/or philosophy?
Bandit (Jen Romanini): Dedication. Determination. Domination. We ask a lot of the ladies that make up our roster, instilling in them our goal of bringing home a championship to the Bay Area. It takes a lot of time, preparation and organization to be successful in this league and this game. The bar has been set high and is being set higher each year. The longer the opportunity for women to play football is around the stiffer the competition gets.
Bandit (Julia Jalalat): I wish everyone got to experience what it feels like to be running your last 100 yard sprint thinking surely this time you will perish, and have your teammates come and run the final sprint with you, not letting you run or perish alone, their very presence giving you life. In all other athletics I felt tolerated; in football I have a sense of belonging. Feeling like I belong moves me to want to become stronger, faster, better. When I step onto the football field, I am home.
Lady Bandits, Danielle Golay, Cori Evans, Julia Jalalat, Jen Romanini, Sandra Hernandez, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to share your thoughts and experiences of participating in women’s football. As of this writing the Bay Area Bandits 2011 record stands at 5 and 0, next game is Saturday, June 4th.
*Thank you to Tod Bice for providing the photos used in this article.
*Featured guests are not former nor current clients of Susan Zaro