Professional women’s football team makes touchdowns in New Orleans

Olivia Henderson, Sports Editor

Daisy Rymer | Sports Layout Editor

Despite facing significant scrutiny, the NFL remains largely closed to women. Only one-third of league employees are women, and there are no female head coaches or players.

These limitations, however, have not stopped those who love the game. Women are increasingly forming all-female football leagues, which often foster female athleticism in NFL-style conditions.

In regards to this movement, the New Orleans Hippies were formed, becoming the Crescent City’s latest iteration of a professional women’s football team. The team is a member of the Women’s National Football Conference, one of the newest female leagues, which incorporates a full-contact play.

Before the Hippies, however, the Big Easy hosted several other teams, including the player-owned New Orleans Blaze. Formed in 2002, the Blaze had the longest run of any New Orleans women’s professional football team before disbanding in 2011.

At the time of its dissolution, the team was a member of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), which uses the same rules as the NFL. The WFA, however, uses a smaller ball than the NFL and only requires its receivers to keep one foot in-bounds. Adding to the league’s local legacy, the first ever WFA tournament was held in New Orleans.

In 2013, the New Orleans Mojo was created, picking up several former Blaze players in the process. The Mojo were also a member of the WFA, but the Mojo’s owner, Christina Urrata, aimed to start a female counterpart to the New Orleans Saints. Accordingly, the team’s uniforms were done in gold and black with modified fleur-de-lis.

Urrata spoke more about her intentions in establishing the Mojo during a radio interview preceding the team’s inaugural season.

“As the Mojo, we would like to compliment the Saints,” Urrata said. “When people are off from the NFL season, they can come out and support the Mojo, the women athletes.”

The Mojo, however, were ultimately unsuccessful and have since ceased play, creating room for the Hippies to kick off their season in New Orleans.

Louisiana’s only remaining WFA team, the Acadiana Zydeco, has been more prosperous than its New Orleans counterparts. The Lafayette-based Zydeco won a national championship in 2016, and one of the team’s defensive ends, Mia Ben, is an eight-time All-American.

Another team, the New Orleans Krewe, appears to have been active between 2015-17, albeit in the semi-professional full contact United States Women’s Football League.

In addition to these teams, countless women play flag and tackle football in amateur leagues. Due to a variety of factors, however, having a short-lived career/franchise is not uncommon.

Unlike their male counterparts, female football players are often unpaid. In fact, most female players must pay to participate in leagues, creating a financial burden for some players. Most leagues also lack free healthcare, meaning that a player’s own insurance must cover her medical bills.

Finding trained recruits can be difficult as well. Few schools and community centers offer football programs for young women, meaning that female football enthusiasts have few opportunities to learn the sport until they are adults.

Despite these struggles, female football players continue to push boundaries, creating opportunities for all people to play the sport they love. Hippie quarterback Kayla Logan has high hopes for the team’s role in this movement.

“I think once we get out there and show them what we can do, you know, it’ll silence the people that think that it’s only a male sport,” Logan said.

The New Orleans Hippies’ first game is on April 6 at 7 p.m. at Muss Bertolino Stadium in Kenner, Louisiana.

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