Movin on Up

Can the defending champs dominate stiffer competition?

By Amy Rossi

Quarterback Allison Cahill and cornerback Brianna Gallo. Photo by Kelly MacDonald

“Last year was last year.”

That sentiment, voiced by linebacker Molly Goodwin, is a theme for the 2011 Boston Militia. The reigning champs of the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL) went undefeated in 2010, but the team isn’t resting on its laurels.
Not that resting in any form is a possibility. Along with eight other top IWFL teams, the Militia moved this offseason to the Women’s Football Association (WFA), a third-year league featuring teams in every corner of the country. The move means the Militia will face tougher teams, in addition to familiar foes like the D.C. Divas and New York Sharks. The mood among Militia players is one of anticipation, not pressure to continue their undefeated streak. “Our goal is to get to the playoffs,” says coach Derrick Beasley. “Obviously we want to win the whole thing, but the first goal is the playoffs.”
The Militia still expect to be a target. “We’re not flying under the radar,” notes Beasley. Goodwin agrees. “I think we’re a highlight on people’s schedule,” she says. That will be the case even though the Militia feature more than 10 new faces after seeing unprecedented interest at tryouts. There’s also some roster turnover. Tackle/tight end Kelly Barker and running back Mia Brickhouse – two former IWFL All-Stars – are among the veterans not returning. “There are some big shoes to fill,” admits Beasley.
The Militia are counting on key transfers from other teams to fill those shoes, including former Sharks wide receiver Adrienne Smith. A five-year veteran of women’s tackle football, Smith says the Militia play “at a faster pace” than the Sharks do. She is a big-play threat – she loves running deep fades and “nine” routes – and is eager to establish a rapport with quarterback Allison Cahill.
The new league brings new rules and a larger official ball. Gone is the red, white and blue IWFL ball. “This one’s the color it should be,” quips Cahill. While it will be an adjustment for wide receivers to see and catch the new ball, Cahill is eager to throw it. In fact, she believes the extra weight on the WFA ball makes it travel better.
The WFA could give women’s football a national spotlight by affiliating with National Football League (NFL) events. Some of this has already happened at a regional level. In December, the Pittsburgh Passion teamed with the NFL and USA Football to host an officiating clinic. And NFL Hall-of-Famer Franco Harris – a legend with the Pittsburgh Steelers – recently became a part of the Passion’s ownership group.
At the Super Bowl in Dallas, many WFA players coached kids at the NFL’s “Play 60” clinic. They met NFL players and promoted women’s football to NFL officials. In fact, Goodwin and her teammates on the U.S. women’s national team (most of whom play in the WFA) watched the Super Bowl at the house of Jason Hatcher, defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys. Connections such as these may lay the foundation for cross-promotions.
Though the players are looking forward to what’s next, there’s one big, sparkling reminder of all they accomplished last season. When asked if she wears her championship ring, Goodwin chuckled. “Occasionally I do,” she says. The jewelry helps Goodwin promote women’s football in her travels, such as to Dallas during Super Bowl week. Cahill, however, recently put her ring away. “We can’t be looking back at how good we were last year,” she says.
The Militia open the season on the road against the Divas on April 2. The first home game at Dilboy Stadium (110 Alewife Brook Pwky) is April 16 against the Sharks. Tickets are available at the gate for $10. Senior citizen tickets are $5, and all children age 10 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Visit for more information.

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