The Oklahoma City Lady Force, a women's football team, is practicing and competing for their sixth consecutive championship.
This is a team preparing to claim highway bragging rights in its big rivalry game Saturday against the Tulsa Threat.
"We’re ready for Tulsa," Lady Force safety Brittani Stidham said.
Under their helmets, they are not just athletes.
"From veterans, business owners, daycare owners, physical therapists," Lady Force team captain Sade Roberts said.
The team has created a sisterhood of more than 40 women.
"Us, as women, we have each other's backs because we have struggled for so many years," Stidham said.
Roberts has been on the team for six years despite rejection in her youth because of her gender.
"I was turned away in middle school," Roberts said. "Personally, I battle with anxiety and depression, and it (football) takes my mind off it."
"I can call them any time of the week,” Stidham said. “Anytime during the day.”
The Force’s 2020 spring season was canceled due to the pandemic.
"Last year, I had about 20 rookies that came out, and we practiced for seven months just not to have a season," Force head coach Shannon Ford said.
These women waited more than a year to get a taste of running onto the field.
"I love this sport,” Ford said. “It's amazing, and it makes you feel good when you get out there, and you have a team that supports you.”
Ford hopes to one day coach in larger leagues, but she also dreams of a day when her players do not have to pay to play.
"Just giving women the ability to come out and enjoy without worrying about the adversity. What people will say," Ford said.
Every recruit has a tryout and must pay for a uniform, pads and other fees.
There’s a lot to sacrifice when you add that to the four-day-a week practices.
The Lady Force and Threat aren’t the only teams in their league. The Women's Football Alliance is a league of 66 teams across the country.
"We don't lose. That's not on our plans," Ford said.
"Come watch us. Come watch us," Roberts said.
The next chance to see the Lady Force is at 7 p.m. tomorrow night at SNU Stadium in Bethany against Tulsa.
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