MANCHESTER, NH – A cold drizzle of rain fell down upon the New Hampshire Rebellion, a women’s tackle football team, as they practiced in Tyngsborough, Mass. All of them came on a Sunday morning when they could be doing anything else – such as sleeping in.
They practiced on the grass of a baseball field at Notre Dame Academy, roughly a 30-minute drive from their home stadium in Manchester. The grass was drenched, and as some players went to the ground doing their plays, they got soaked.
The Rebellion, known last year as the Ruckus, is part of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA). The Rebellion is a self-funded team currently looking for both sponsors and new tryouts. The players they currently have are a mixture of veterans and newcomers, all working hard for a chance to prove themselves.
Among those players is team captain Selina Collins, a running back. She joined the league after having played Pop Warner football at a young age. She had to stop playing high school both due to her interest in basketball and a lack of support for women playing football at the high school level.
“But then a few years later,” Collins said. “I was in college and I was dropping my brother off at lacrosse practice and I saw the Boston Militia practicing. I was like, that’s so cool, I want to try out for them. A few years later, I found the Ruckus through my friend Lauren and joined the team last year. It’s pretty awesome that it’s available in this area.”
During practice, the coaches were explaining how halfbacks should follow their lead blockers, and what routes receivers should run at different times. The defensive coordinator mentioned a philosophy from Bill Belichick which, in summary, states that as long as each player does their job, the team will do well.
The team’s camaraderie was evident as they went through their practice. Players congratulate each other on a play well done and encourage one another when something needs improving. The team ran together, did drills together, ran plays together, and took water breaks together.
Speaking of her experience, Collins said, “It’s been great. I grew up with three brothers and no sisters. When I joined this team, I gained 30 sisters. The support’s great. We support each other in all facets of life.”
That support was on display as Missy Mahoney, a transgender woman playing outside linebacker, was treated with the same courtesy and respect as everyone else.
“I wanna prove myself,” Mahoney said. “I want to prove that I can do this.”
The head coach, Rich Dube, sees a lot of promise and potential in the team. During practice, he was continually guiding and instructing his players with endless patience and kindness, even as he got rained on. He played high school football and a few years at the semi-pro level. Now, with playbook in hand, he shares the wisdom of his experience to everyone around him.
“If I didn’t have faith in these girls I wouldn’t be here,” Dube said. “They work hard in every practice. They work hard in every game. They work their butts off. As long as they do their job well, we should come out with a victory.
Manchester Rebellion plays their first home game of the year at Gill Stadium in Manchester on May 6 at 5 p.m.