Two weeks ago, I released an offseason women’s football update as the sport prepares for the 2016 season. Since then, however, news has begun to trickle out about plans the three major leagues have regarding the 2016 season, so I have a few juicy nuggets of info to pass along. Here’s a second offseason update.

Trying to Finish Victorious

As many of you may know, there is a movie in the works called Victorious which has the potential to change the game for women’s football.  Director Robert Mac followed the D.C. Divas for the entire 2015 season, filming their every move in preparation for putting together a landmark documentary.

Here is what I love about Victorious: it’s not just a movie about the Divas.  When Mac wisely decided to change the name of the film from its working title, Women With Balls, he settled on the name Victorious.  You might think this was because the 2015 Divas went on to win the WFA national championship (giving his film a magical storybook ending).  But the real reason he chose that name is because he wanted to make it clear that all these women who are playing traditional football – who sacrifice their blood, sweat, and tears just to play a sport so often denied to women – are all victorious, just by doing what they do.

During the filming of the movie, the Divas’ opponents had mixed reactions to the film.  Some balked at signing the waivers, and others feared that the movie would cast them as the “villain” of the story.  But others got it right away.  I really need to publicly applaud Odessa Jenkins and her entire Dallas Elite team.  Without hesitation, they gave Mac unfettered access to their team on national championship weekend.

In fact, they allowed Mac into the Dallas locker room immediately after losing a hard-fought national championship game.  A little context – many of the Elite players were members of the Dallas Diamonds team that was blown out in the 2013 national title game by the Chicago Force.  When the Diamonds folded, many of them then joined the Houston Energy, where they fell in the 2014 IWFL title game to the Pittsburgh Passion.  So for those Elite players, the Dallas-D.C. game was their third straight appearance in a championship contest.  This time, instead of suffering a lopsided loss, the game came down to the final minute before they succumbed to a narrow, devastating defeat.

You can only imagine how they must have felt in the immediate aftermath of that moment, and how they had to have felt about having cameras shooting their every move.  Yet they knew this documentary was important for the entire sport, and they knew it couldn’t capture the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat without such access.  So they consented to having one of the most heart-wrenching moments of their careers captured on film.

For that, the entire Dallas Elite franchise forever earned my eternal respect.  Jenkins and the Elite players knew the point of the documentary…the Dallas Elite weren’t villains in a story.  Victorious was the story of the D.C. Divas’ journey to try to win the national title, but their path intersected with the Dallas Elite, who were on their own separate journey…just one that wasn’t filmed from start to finish.  Most importantly, the Divas, the Elite, and all the teams out there were very much on the same journey…the journey to earn respect from a world that too often tries to marginalize them.

I believe Victorious has the potential to make an enormous impact on how outsiders view women’s football.  Yes, there have been many documentaries made about women’s football in the past, as the IWFL has been quick to remind people recently. I have enjoyed all the women’s football documentaries I have seen…but then, I’m kind of their core audience.

Yet with all due respect to those documentaries (and again, I love seeing them), Victorious could be a landmark movie.  Robert Mac has some legitimate documentary credits to his name, including Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. Executive producer Paul Blackthorne is a bonafide Hollywood actor who gives the film added credibility. The equipment used to film these games was state-of-the-art technology that will bring the sport to life in a way that has never been seen before. And, yes, with teams like the D.C. Divas, Cleveland Fusion, Columbus Comets, Boston Renegades, Chicago Force, Dallas Elite and others being featured, you’re seeing women’s football at its highest level caught on film.

It’s the perfect storm for a groundbreaking documentary.  With all due respect to the women’s football movies that have come before, Victorious is the kind of documentary that could wind up in theaters across the country, that could be entered in major film festivals rather than local municipal ones.  The current plan is to debut the film at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.  It could literally be a breakthrough film for our sport…and certainly not just for the D.C. Divas.  This is the film that could be so professionally and expertly made that every women’s football player now and in the future can hand it to someone who asks her what women’s football is all about and she can say, “THIS is what I do.”

The filming for Victorious is done, the Divas provided a Hollywood ending, and all the pieces are in place for a film that will go down in women’s football history.  Here’s the bad news: the documentary is in post-production and it needs your help to cross the goal line.  Mac needs about $20,000 to $30,000 to wrap this thing up.  Believe me, I know that sounds like a massive amount of cash, but when you think about it, that’s a reasonable cost of completing a movie that actually looks like a Hollywood production.

I hate asking the women’s football community for money, as they give and give and give more for the sport of football than most will ever know.  But if funding can’t be secured, there’s still a very real chance that this entire project never gets off the cutting room floor.  As a sport, petty rivalries aside – we cannot allow that to happen. The women’s football universe is a vast one…if we all come together, I know we can do this.  Please visit the fundraising site for Victorious and give whatever you can.  But even more importantly…SPREAD THE WORD so others can help too!

Together, let’s change how people see women’s football.

Who’s First?

In my last offseason update, someone left a comment raising a topic worth further discussion. Here was the comment in full:

Just a small thing – You talk about the Passion switching to the IWFL in 2014, but where’s the mention of the NY Sharks going with them? It was a package deal with both teams knowing it would come down to them to essentially take the title. The Sharks, a legendary team in women’s football, were the team that could have (and nearly did) take the title from the Passion. With the history of the Sharks (they ARE the longest running women’s football team, after all…) I think it’s a little disrespectful to ignore them in the equation.

First of all, thanks for the comment…I always appreciate the feedback.

Before I move on to the substance of the comment, a quick digression. I strongly dispute that the New York Sharks are the longest-running women’s football team. The Sharks often say that, but I don’t believe that to be true.

Here are the facts…the Minnesota Vixens (now Vixen) were one of the first two women’s tackle football teams of the modern era (along with the now-defunct Lake Michigan Minx). The Sharks existed prior to that as a flag football team, but they only converted to tackle football after receiving a challenge from the Vixen. Because the Vixen predated the Sharks as a women’s tackle football team, haven’t missed a season in their history, and still exist today, the Minnesota Vixen deserve the title as the longest-running women’s football team. The Sharks share the record with them for most seasons played in tackle football at 17, but the Vixen get my nod as the longest-running team.

Now, perhaps the Sharks are claiming that they are the “longest-running” team by including their flag football history. But that’s dubious. Women’s flag football is a different beast altogether from women’s tackle football. They are (and should be) distinct and separate.

I mean no disrespect to women’s flag football…it’s legit stuff. But it’s a completely different format from tackle. When we announce the Sharks’ all-time win/loss record, for example, no one includes the records from their flag games. Moreover, there are numerous women’s flag football teams across the country…who’s to say there isn’t one out there that has existed continuously longer than the Sharks? I surely don’t know the answer to that question, because I don’t cover women’s flag football. It’s just a totally different animal…no disrespect intended.

I know the claim of longest-running women’s football team could theoretically also encompass flag football. But when I use the term “women’s football”, it can be assumed that I’m referring to women’s tackle football…not soccer, not flag, and sure as heck not lingerie. Because if the NFL is “men’s football”, women’s tackle football is “women’s football”. Women’s soccer is women’s soccer, women’s flag football is women’s flag football, and lingerie football is a glorified peep show.

Anyway, I love the Sharks, but to me, it’s clear that the Vixen deserve the title of longest-running team. Besides, the Sharks have plenty of other records…they can settle for #2 on that list. :-)

Giving the Sharks a Pass

Now on to the substance of the comment: while I took the Passion to task a bit for their jump to the IWFL, I gave the New York Sharks a relative pass. I understand why that might seem hypocritical, so I want to explain. I don’t have the criticism for the Sharks and their move to the IWFL that I do for the Passion…but before any Sharks fans out there thank me for it, you might not be so happy when you hear my reasoning for why I give them a pass.

The New York Sharks left the WFA for the IWFL with the Passion in 2014, and yes, it was rumored to be very much a package deal. (It is well-known behind the scenes that Pittsburgh co-owner Teresa Conn and New York owner Andra Douglas are very good friends.) And the New York Sharks are, indeed, a legendary team…second longest-running team (after the Vixen), second in all-time wins (after the Sacramento Sirens), first all-time in games played, and an IWFL national championship in 2002. Much, much respect to the Sharks, one of the all-time brand names in women’s football.

Now that I’ve said those nice things about the Sharks, it’s time to make a few more enemies…this time from the Sharks fanbase. Though the Sharks have a tremendous history and were a very solid, competitive team, they were not on the same level as the Passion when they left for the IWFL. While the Sharks have played the Passion tough, I disagree with the assertion that the IWFL championship “would come down to them [the Passion and Sharks] to essentially take the title.” The Sharks were not in the same position to steamroll their new league the way the Passion were.

My criticism of the Passion’s move can be summarized by this statement from my last article: “Pittsburgh left a league of competitive equals to go to a league where they faced none.” The stats bore that out: after a tough 29-6 road victory over the reigning champion Carolina Phoenix in their 2014 IWFL debut, the Passion proceeded to dominate their next 14 non-Shark IWFL opponents over the next two years by an average of nearly 42 points per game, winning each contest by at least four touchdowns apiece.  No IWFL team other than the Sharks would stay within four touchdowns of the Passion again until the 2015 IWFL championship game, when the Passion held off the upstart Utah Falconz for a 41-37 victory.

This is a long, statistical way of saying that Pittsburgh joined a league in 2013 that, at the time, had no teams on their competitive level. With due respect to the Sharks, when Pittsburgh joined the IWFL in 2014, they were massive favorites to win the league title (and win it they did). Again, my criticism of the Pittsburgh Passion’s move to the IWFL in 2014 can be summarized in this quote: “Pittsburgh left a league of competitive equals to go to a league where they faced none.”

Was that true for the Sharks, though? Again, all due respect to the Sharks and their outstanding history…no, that wasn’t true. The Sharks have compiled a 13-6 record during their two-year stay in the IWFL – an 0-6 record against the Passion and a 13-0 record against everyone else. I understand why that probably looks to many like domination of their non-Passion opponents.

However, when you take a closer look, a different story appears. Remember, the only time in the last two years that a team other than the Sharks played the Passion within 21 points was the Utah Falconz in the 2015 IWFL title game. Conversely, non-Passion opponents have played the Sharks within three touchdowns on seven different occasions in 2014 and 2015.

The Sharks’ first meeting with the Carolina Phoenix in 2014 couldn’t have been any closer, as the Sharks slipped by with a 29-28 victory. In 2015, the Sharks were played within one score by non-Passion opponents three times: the Sharks swept the Montreal Blitz by scores of 26-19 and 14-7, and the Sharks ended their regular season with a 28-20 win over the Philadelphia Firebirds. (The Sharks, inexplicably, didn’t play the Carolina Phoenix in 2015, despite their competitive regular season contest the year before.)

So here’s my main point: when the Passion joined the IWFL in 2014, they were entering a league where they were prohibitive favorites, a league where they had no competitive equals. Now consider this hypothetical – if the Sharks had gone to the IWFL in 2014 without the Passion, would they have been prohibitive favorites?

If you’re being honest and really looking at the stats…no, they wouldn’t. They would have been one of the favorites to win the IWFL, and maybe even the biggest favorite. But the Sharks winning the league title wouldn’t have been a foregone conclusion. You can’t say that the IWFL didn’t have any teams that were on New York’s competitive level. Other IWFL teams like the Phoenix, Blitz, and Firebirds have been very competitive with New York, even if they haven’t broken through for a win yet.

To carry that theme over to this season…the Pittsburgh Passion would have been a slam dunk favorite to win the IWFL’s Eastern Conference again in 2016. Now that they’re gone, are the New York Sharks a slam dunk to win the IWFL’s Eastern Conference this year? No, they aren’t. They’re one of the favorites, probably even the biggest favorite. But I wouldn’t put it past Carolina, Montreal, Philly, or even some dark horse out there to rise up and stun the Sharks…those teams have proven that they can be competitive in the fourth quarter with New York. Let’s be honest, those same teams probably weren’t going to break through and take down Pittsburgh (unless, of course, you’re talking about the Sharks).

So there you have it. I had no problem with the Sharks going to the IWFL to get on their feet, so to speak, because I view the Sharks the same way I do the Minnesota Vixen, the Sacramento Sirens, the California Quake, and the Houston Energy, just to name four…teams with long, illustrious histories but who certainly aren’t dominant enough at this point in time to just roll through the IWFL without a fight. Pittsburgh was a different beast altogether, and if Sharks fans find that disrespectful, so be it; it’s not meant to be. I’m not trying to insult them…just making an honest assessment.

Finally, let me say that women’s football needs a strong, powerful team in the Big Apple. It’s very good for the sport to have a successful franchise based out of the New York City area, so I wish the Sharks all the best.

Racy Marketing and Women’s Football

As many readers here know, I’ve spent a lot of time lately excoriating the LFL and lingerie football, and for good reason. With that said, I’ve had a couple fans ask for my opinion about the use of racy, sexualized marketing in women’s football. One such example brought to my attention was this promotional flyer for the WFA’s expansion Philadelphia Phantomz.

The topic of racy marketing in traditional women’s football is a tough one, because it’s a difficult balance. On the one hand, real women’s football teams don’t generally like to promote or celebrate the attractiveness of their athletes, because they don’t want there to be any brand confusion with the LFL. Traditional women’s football wants to make it clear to female athletes that the sport is open to all women of talent, whatever shape or size you may be.

On the other hand, there is an unfortunate stereotype in some corners that women’s football players are overly masculine and unattractive. Chauvinist extraordinaire Mitch Mortaza is a prime purveyor of this falsehood, stating, “No offense to them but…women’s athletics haven’t been that popular primarily because they’re not the most attractive people in the world.” (Yeah, why would female athletes everywhere take offense to that? Seriously, LFL supporters…how do you continue to defend this guy and his league?)

Anyway, many spectators may not realize just how beautiful most women’s football players are, and that’s a misconception women’s football would benefit from shattering. Women’s football superfan Alex Daniel once made an interesting statement that “lingerie football is redundant.” It rings true – anyone who has spent time around real women’s football can attest that there are many, many very attractive ladies playing the sport and playing it right. (As evidence, the most beautiful woman on the planet plays traditional women’s football…she wears #62 for the D.C. Divas.)

But there’s your balancing act: Traditional women’s football wants to illustrate that there are attractive women playing this sport while still reinforcing the fact that – unlike the LFL – having a narrow, specific body type is not a requirement in order to be allowed to play. So…how do you walk that line?

Whenever the discussion of racy marketing in women’s football comes up, the first name that always comes to my mind is Anita Marks. For those who may not remember, Marks was the quarterback of the Miami Fury from 2000-2003 and the Florida Stingrayz for their only season in the fall of 2003. This was before my time, but from the stories I’ve heard, Marks was a very, very good quarterback, one of the best of her era; perhaps she wasn’t the very best, but she was in that general conversation. But in 2002, she immediately became the most well-known women’s football player in America. Why?

She posed for Playboy.

Marks’ appearance in the gentleman’s magazine sent the sport of women’s football into a conniption. Defenders argued that it would give publicity to women’s football and offer a counterpoint to the negative stereotypes on the lack of sex appeal of women’s football players, while critics suggested that it reduced female athletes to sex objects and would generate headlines for all the wrong reasons. It’s worth noting that at least there was no brand confusion back then…this was in a pre-LFL world where there was no question that, despite Marks’ good looks, her accolades as a women’s football quarterback had nothing to do with her beauty and everything to do with her talent. She was a real quarterback playing real football, not a lingerie football player.

Anita Marks has since gone on to have a long career in sports broadcasting, so whatever you might think of her decision to pose for Playboy, things have definitely worked out for the best for her. I often ask myself what I would have thought about her decision at the time…or if, hypothetically, an elite traditional women’s football player today pursued a Playboy shoot. I think I would consider it more problematic today than I would have then (again, because I’d hate for women’s football to be lowered to the LFL’s level), but even now, I’d have to side in favor of it.

First of all, far be it from me to tell a traditional women’s football player what magazines she should or shouldn’t pose for. It’s a free country, and these ladies should be able to do what they want. I understand wanting to defend against “giving the sport a bad name,” so to speak, but one general philosophy I go to in cases like this is: if I wouldn’t have a problem with an NFL or major college football player doing it, then I shouldn’t have a problem with a women’s football player doing the same. And if an NFL player wants to pose nude in a magazine (or on NFL Network!!), be my guest. I won’t be watching, though…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

With all that said, I have to admit that I’m a bit troubled by the Philadelphia Phantomz recent promotional efforts. But again, for me it all goes back to a simple belief that if women’s football wants to be regarded as a professional sport like the NFL, member teams need to project a professional image, the way the NFL would. I get that Phantomz players may enjoy lighting up the clubs – no issues there; it can be a team-bonding experience, and stories of NFL players’ after-hours exploits have become almost legendary in today’s 24-7 media cycle.

Still, regardless of how much partying NFL players do in their down time, no NFL team would ever put photos from a topless club on their Facebook page. (Link is not safe for work…don’t click if you have virgin eyes.) Topless dancers in the background? Come on, people…that’s a no-no. I rarely call out women’s football teams publicly (yeah, okay, I do it all the time), but just as a general rule, if an NFL team would find it in poor taste, women’s football teams and leagues should, too.

Philly is an expansion team, and I’m excited about the prospect of a WFA team there again, so I’ll let them off easy this time. But for heaven’s sake, clean it up, ladies.

Offseason League Updates – WFA

Now what you’ve all been waiting for…some quick updates for you on the WFA, IWFL, and USWFL. All three of these leagues have had preliminary discussions about their 2016 seasons, and luckily for me, I have sources within each league. So I have a few tasty tidbits to share with the women’s football loyalists still reading. Please note that everything which follows is still subject to change, as we have several months to go before the start of the season.

Let’s start with the WFA, where word broke earlier this week about the addition of the 2015 WSFL champion Keystone Assault to the league. I was tipped off to an early list of the teams expected to participate in the WFA’s 2016 season. Last year, the WFA featured 40 teams. This year, the league is currently planning for 50 teams.

The WFA’s roster of teams, as it currently stands, lists 14 new additions to the league for 2016. Here are the 14 planned newcomers to the WFA:

Pittsburgh Passion (from IWFL)
Keystone Assault (from WSFL)
Philadelphia Phantomz
Richmond Black Widows
Fayetteville Fierce
Memphis Stars
Alabama Fire (Birmingham, AL)
Franklin Nightmare (Franklin, TN)
Port City Jaguars (Shreveport, LA)
Flint City Riveters (Flint, MI)
East Texas Lady Crusaders (Longview, TX)
Southern Oregon Lady Renegades (Medford, OR)
Mile High Blaze (from independent)
Colorado Voodoo (from IWFL)

Most of these were listed in my last update, but there are a few changes. First, the Pittsburgh Passion are, as expected, in the WFA’s plans for the 2016 season. Also, it appears that the Colorado Voodoo are in fact the former Colorado Springs Voodoo of the IWFL, as they are not in the IWFL’s plans for the 2016 season (we’ll get to that in a minute).

Two of the teams listed above were not included in my last update. One was the Keystone Assault, who signed with the WFA earlier this week. The other is the Southern Oregon Lady Renegades of Medford, Oregon.

Like the East Texas Lady Crusaders, the Lady Renegades are actually an extension of a men’s team, hence the “Lady” clarification. Personally, I really like the idea of women’s football teams piggybacking off of established men’s teams. I think the shared marketing benefits can really help get teams off the ground in certain markets. (I’m also entertained by the notion that the WFA now has teams on both coasts living like they’re Renegades. That’s a big moniker to live up to, Southern Oregon.)

With 40 teams last season and 14 new planned additions thus far, the WFA’s 50-team roster for 2016 spells four departures. The Central Maryland Seahawks, who folded early in the 2015 season, appear to be done for good. Last season’s two Portland franchises, the Shockwave and Fighting Fillies, have merged into the Fighting Shockwave, reducing the WFA’s Portland roster by one team. The Tulsa Threat have left the WFA for the IWFL, as mentioned in my last offseason update.

The fourth team that is not on the WFA’s initial list of teams at this time is the Arizona Assassins. The Assassins endured three straight winless seasons from 2012-2014 but appeared to have a bounce-back year in 2015, posting a 3-5 record. Perhaps they’ll find their way back, but their online presence has always been a little spotty, so they’re a possible fold. If so, I tip my cap to the Assassins for giving six years to women’s football.

Offseason League Updates – IWFL

We move on to the IWFL, where, as you may know, I’m less than beloved by many. Fortunately, several folks in that league have my back and are happy to share some inside info with me. The league recently held one of their key offseason meetings, so here’s a look at the IWFL’s 2016 gameplan.

As with the WFA, I was tipped off to an early list of the teams expected to participate in the IWFL’s 2016 season. Last year, the IWFL featured 28 full-member teams plus seven affiliate members. This year, the league is currently planning for 27 full-member teams plus seven affiliate members.

The IWFL’s roster of teams, as it currently stands, lists six new additions to the league for 2016. I pegged all six in my last offseason update, but here they are again:

Maine Mayhem (Gorham, ME)
Granite Grey Wolves (Candia, NH)
New York Knockout (from W8FL)
Tulsa Threat (from WFA)
Woodland Wildcats (The Woodlands, TX)
Bakersfield Bombers

The IWFL’s Northeast Rebels, who operated in Maine for most of their existence before moving to New Hampshire a few years ago after the dissolution of the New Hampshire/Manchester Freedom, folded earlier this offseason. The Mayhem and Grey Wolves are essentially dividing up the old territory of the Rebels and Freedom.

It’s great for the IWFL from a “number of teams” standpoint, but the Mayhem and Grey Wolves can only hope they’re more competitive than the Rebels were. The Rebels were mostly known for their legendary lack of success, churning out a women’s football record 36-game losing streak before folding this year. The Rebels had endured five straight winless seasons, capturing their last victory back in 2010 and folding at the conclusion of the 2015 season without another win since. Their main purpose was to serve up wins and pad the record of every other IWFL team within driving range. I’m not sure splitting a team with that little success on the field in half is going to help the IWFL from a competitive standpoint, but I guess we’ll see.

With 35 combined full-member and affiliate teams last season and six new planned additions thus far, the IWFL’s 34-team roster for 2016 spells seven departures. Here are the seven teams not currently in the IWFL’s plans for 2016, which, as always, is subject to change:

Northeast Rebels (folded and split in two)
Pittsburgh Passion (departed for WFA)
Connecticut Wreckers
Wisconsin Warriors
Colorado Springs Voodoo (departed for WFA)
Central Valley Mustangs
Ventura Black Widows

The Rebels, Passion, and Voodoo have already been discussed. The Ventura Black Widows have been trying to make a go of it off and on for several years; last year they were an IWFL team in name only, with one forfeit loss to their credit. It’s not surprising the IWFL isn’t counting on them for 2016.

Nor is it surprising that the league isn’t counting on the return of the Mustangs. The Central Valley Mustangs played one game last year, a 43-0 shutout loss to the Nevada Storm on June 6. They also picked up the lone forfeit victory over the Black Widows, but all in all, it’s not a shock to see the Mustangs omitted from the IWFL’s 2016 plans right now.

The absence of the Wisconsin Warriors and Connecticut Wreckers is more surprising. The Warriors have struggled with numbers for years, as illustrated in a terrific Fox Sports article last season. As for the Wreckers, two victories over the notoriously winless Rebels were all that allowed them to avoid a third winless season of their own in their four-year existence.

It’s still early in the offseason, so hopefully the Warriors and Wreckers will be back, but at this point, they’re highly questionable. In particular, if this is the end of the road for the Warriors, they’ll be missed. As the 2009 IWFL2 national champions, the Warriors were a gritty, underdog franchise that put out a nice documentary last year. Thanks for your contributions, ladies.

Offseason League Updates – USWFL

Last one…here’s an update on the United States Women’s Football League. The USWFL is undergoing a marked transformation, as new commish Mary Butler really puts her stamp on the league. First and most obviously, the USWFL is operating under a new name, shedding the Women’s Spring Football League (WSFL) branding for a fresh new look.

Second, I’ve learned that the USWFL is scrapping the W8FL for the time being, choosing instead to focus on its 11’s division. I think that’s probably a wise decision…the W8FL was not able to enlist more than four teams the past couple years, and many of the teams the W8FL did have were structurally shaky.

I like the concept of eights football, overall. But teams would generally rather play 11’s, so franchises that gravitate toward an eights league are often teams that don’t have the ability to compete in 11’s. That in turn made the W8FL a magnet for teams of questionable organizational strength, and as such, a headache to run. I think it’s a smart move for the USWFL to focus on its 11’s league for the time being, as I think it is showing promise.

On that note, the WSFL featured ten teams in 2015, the largest number of teams in the league’s history. The newly-minted USWFL is planning to hold steady at ten franchises going forward in 2016, including four new additions:

Buffalo Bullets
Erie Illusion
Southern Valkyrie (from W8FL)
Houston Rebels

The Bullets and Rebels were in the league’s planning for 2015 but were not quite able to launch last year; they’ll try again in 2016. The Erie Illusion are planning a return to the field for 2016, which is exciting. A new team called the Lake Erie Snappers planned to take over the Illusion’s territory and compete in the WSFL in 2015, but when that didn’t pan out, the decision was made to return to the familiar Erie Illusion brand for the 2016 season.

Finally, the Southern Valkyrie are the lone surviving former W8FL club making the jump to the USWFL. The Valkyrie played most of their games last season in the 11’s format anyway, so hopefully it will make for an easy transition for them.

With four new additions and the overall number of teams holding steady at ten, that signals four former 2015 WSFL teams that aren’t currently in the USWFL’s plans for 2016:

Keystone Assault (departed for WFA)
Atlanta Heartbreakers
DFW Xtreme
Arkansas Assassins

The Assault, as mentioned, have left for the WFA. The Assassins played two games last season and had issues with branding (often calling themselves Xassassins) and social media presence. The Assassins were never quite able to replicate the success of the Arkansas Banshees, the former WSFL team they replaced.

As for the DFW Xtreme and Atlanta Heartbreakers, they too have had issues staying active and up-to-date on social media, particularly the Xtreme. As with the WFA and IWFL, the USWFL has not officially confirmed these team lists, and since it is still early in the offseason, the Heartbreakers and Xtreme may reappear somewhere before the start of the season. But as of right now, the USWFL looks to be planning around ten teams for the 2016 season.

That’s all for now, but there’s sure to be more changes to come as the women’s football offseason develops. Thanks for reading!

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