One Team’s Football Season Set to Begin
The sound of whistles blowing,
The thud of thunderous hits,
The yelling of coaches,
The sight of the sun shining off the helmets… Looks like a typical football practice but then one player removes their helmet to unveil a ponytail. Upon further review this is anything but your typical football practice. It’s a practice of the Philadelphia Liberty Belles, a tackle football team made up of exclusively women.
The Liberty Belles are based in Philadelphia and in the past have played their home games at the Frankford Chargers field in Philadelphia and Wissahickon High School in Ambler. This year they will be playing at Northeast High School in Philadelphia. Despite the Philadelphia base many of the players hail from outside the city. Ares of Delaware, New Jersey, and the Philadelphia suburbs are represented by a member of the team.
One of the things that make the Belles unique is not only are the players females, but they also don’t receive the multi-million dollars that players in the National Football League receive – instead they play for the love of the game. “I play because I love the game”, offensive line-woman Noel Mendez said, adding “Growing up I would always play with the boys in the field.”
Another thing that separates the players is that they work your normal 9-5 jobs. Some of the career choices of the players include: teacher, police detective, non-profit, movie/TV producers, former members of the military, biochemist, and fitness star.
To help with the cost of running the team the Belles count on incredible support from their families in addition to hosting fundraisers. In the past fundraisers have included beef and beers and raffles including one this year where you can win autographed Eagles merchandise.
The funds that are raised go to help the players with the cost of equipment and travel. In previous seasons the Belles have traveled as far away as Michigan and Ohio for playoff games; this is in addition to traveling to Maryland and Connecticut during the regular season. This year the Belles travel to Washington DC, Boston, New York, and the Harrisburg area.
The Belles were founded in 2008 by NaTaza Stanford and have had nothing but success winning back to back Division Championships in their first two years of existence. In their inaugural season under the direction of Bill Systma the Belles went 8-0 in the regular season after being predicted to win none or one game by pre-season ranking.
The Belles reached the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) National Conference Championship in their first season where they were dealt their first lost in franchise history in a true battle with the Western Michigan Mayhem.
Last season under the direction of Mike Ochmanowicz the Belles again went undefeated in the regular season clinching their second straight Northeast Division title with an average margin of victory of 44 points per game. In the first round of the playoffs they got their revenge on the Mayhem defeating them 35-33 in a hard fought, action packed game at Wissahickon. That win sent the Belles on the road to Columbus where they met the Columbus Comets who handed the Belles their only loss of the season.
For his effort in leading the Belles to their second straight Division Championship Ochmanowicz was honored with the WFA Coach of the Year award: “The Coach of the Year award is first and foremost an incredible honor. With all the great coaches in our league to be presented with this award is one of the greatest I ever been given” Ochmanowicz said, adding “But this is a team award with my name on it. My amazing staff and wonderful team were the backbone to this award. I’m so thankful and proud of them all.” Ochmanowicz was not the only Belle to receive post season honors as Running-back Marirose Roach was named the WFAs National Conference Most Valuable Player. Last season Roach rushed for 1,048 yards on 58 carries for an average of 18.1 yards per carry and 24 touchdowns. Roach was joined on the All American team by teammates Jeanette Hibbs (Quarterback/Wide Receiver), Rene Pfender (Tight end), NaTaza Stanford (Defensive end), Jenny Butler (Linebacker), Sheemea Carr (Linebacker), and Sara Landau (Offensive line).
The action on the field is very similar to that of the NFL with many of the rules being the same. This season opens up on April 2 when the New York Sharks along with the Coaching staff, led by former Pittsburgh Steeler and Superbowl Championship Darnell Stapleton, come down to Northeast High School’s Charlie Martin Memorial Stadium for a 6 pm kick-off. The next Saturday, April 9, the New England Nightmare will take on the Belles. On April 15 the Belles will hold a pregame exhibition before the Philadelphia Soul home opener. The next day the Belles travel down to Landover Maryland where they will take on the DC Divas. The Belles then return to action May 7 when the Keystone Assault travel east for a Keystone State show down. The next week, May 14, the Belles head up to Brooklyn New York for a rematch with the Sharks before returning home on May 21 to take on the Divas. The Belles will close the season with two straight away games at Boston (June 4) and at Keystone (June 11). Tickets prices are $10 and can be purchase on the Belles website www.phillybelles.com or on game day. The Belles will also have their games broadcasted over the Internet by easternpafootball.com’s Billy Scully- visit our website for more information
The Belles also offer a great opportunity for your business to sponsor them. More information can be about the sponsorship opportunities or questions about the team can be answered by emailing Media_relations@phillybelles.com, Mike.Porsia@phillybelles.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
Share This Post: