HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - For the last four years, the Richmond Black Widows have given women the chance to take the football field. It’s not two-hand touch, it’s not flag football, rather the River City’s first and only full contact football team. These girls of the gridiron are there to play.
“We come out here, we practice just like the men,” said running back Mona Coley. “We hit just like them, we run up and down the field talking smack just like them.”
“It’s not powder puff, it’s not patty cake. We’re out here to lay some hits on some females,” added quarterback Alyssa Pochop.
The Black Widows are one of two tackle football teams in the state, but the only one that plays in a national league, the Women’s Football Alliance. The players all have a passion for the pigskin and are grateful for the chance to hit the field and play the game that they love.
“Being able to find a sport in which I already had so much appreciation for previously and love for, it was just so awesome to be able to find a team that was willing to take me,” said Pochop, a military member who commutes from Norfolk for practices and games.
“It was always the male sport,” defensive tackle Mizelle Cook said, “so now being able to go out and play football, and to play among women, it’s just a thrill.”
These athletes come from all across the commonwealth to compete, and as they come from all walks of life, they bond over their common bond of football.
“We have a definite sisterhood here," Pochop observed. "We’re very strong, we communicate with each other.”
“This team is just like a family," added Cook. "From day one they help you out, they encourage you to keep going, even when you feel like you can’t make it, they encourage you, so I love being a part of this team.”
Their status as female football players puts the Black Widows in role model and trailblazer territory, as they look to show younger girls that the sport can be more than just a man’s game. Pochop knows all about breaking that barrier, as she played varsity football in high school.
“Being able to show females of the younger ages that it’s ok to play football, there’s no gender bias when it comes to a team, especially coming from myself playing in high school, I played with an all male team.”
“You didn’t have a female in the NFL," noted Black Widows’ head coach Vernon Gregory. "Now you’ve got a female official and you’ve got two females that [are] on an NFL team as coaches, so the females are starting to make their mark.”
The Richmond Black Widows play their home games at Hermitage High School. They’ll host a fan event on May 25 and play their next home contest on June 1.
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