Women take the field!


Krystal Coates

The Avengers team photo

When people think of American football, the first thing that comes to mind is muscular men throwing, running, and catching a ball in order to score touchdowns and win. However,men are not the only players on the field. In Jacksonville, we have the Jaguars, but we also have the lesser-known Florida Avengers. The Avengers is an all-women team that plays tackle football.

Unlike NFL players, these women aren’t primarily football players. They are doctors, engineers, teachers, moms, wives, and most importantly, trailblazers.

“One thousand percent yes. I consider my team and myself trailblazers. We are showing young girls, women athletes that we can play football and we can play it well,” commented Krystal Coates, a defensive tackle, strong guard, special teams, linebacker, and strong safety.

There is no difference between how the Avengers and the Jags play the game. They both tackle, both catch, and both work hard and train. However, one is popularly watched, while the other is barely acknowledged.

The Avengers practicing (Krystal Coates)

Coates said, “However, we are a professional team, so the difference there is; pay- we don’t get paid at all, we raise our money. Fan base, respect, acknowledgment in the sport. Air time, equipment is not necessarily made for women.” Even though women are not biologically built like men, the pads and equipment are still made for men. She continued by saying, “Sports complex to play adequately. Staff such as trainers for injuries, etc., is minimal.” Though they are grateful to their two main sponsors (Adidas and Riddle), the amount of support that NFL teams have does not begin to compare.

It’s only been seven years since the first time a woman was hired as a full-time official for the NFL. Coates commented, “When I was growing up, I didn’t know I had the option to play football. Now that I know I have a choice and say I want all girls, young women, and adults to know they can play hard, show up and show the world we can do hard things if that’s what we want to do!”

“To show up and learn something new that I had never learned to play growing up. I’m playing for my nieces, nephews, and all young women who can see that women can play.” She continued, “My nieces, I want them to know it’s an option, and for my nephews, I want them to learn that women can play football and appreciate these women playing and putting in the hard work and effort.”

This team’s importance not only shows women that they can do stereotypically masculine things, but it’s laying the seeds for more women and girls to play in the future. When asked what advice she would give to girls that want to play football, she said, “Do it! You can do anything you put your mind to. What do you have to lose by trying it? “

Practicing together 15 hours a week creates unity between the women. They all respect each other on and off the field. Coates concluded, “All of these women across my team show up on the field for practice or game ready to grind. We are all going for one thing, and that is to win and pave the way for future generations to come.”