Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Austin Rage, the importance of the game, the Amazing Outlaws

It was in year 2003, late summer - or was it 2004?  Ah yes, I remember it well -

I had heard there was a professional football team in Austin and I wondered if they'd consider making me their official team photographer.  The team was the Austin Rage.  Their website gave the location of their practice field and I decided to drop in. I  wondered what the security was like.  Would I be able to get close enough to talk with the team manager?

There was no practice that day.  A few players had showed up.  One introduced herself as the quarterback and I thought she looked like a quarterback - confident, take-charge personality style.  She introduced herself - "I'm Sekethia Tejeda."  When I struggled with Sekethia, she said "Call me Ski." 

Ski Tejeda

You know Ski because she's the now famous Austin Outlaws Grandma who made history with her pick-six interception a couple weeks ago. 

And you're getting ahead of me when you notice that Ski was playing for the Rage and is now playing for the Outlaws.  Don't worry, I'll catch up.

Hollie Rhodes

Several other players were there at the non-practice.  One was Minori Jovel, whom I know because she also went on to play for the Outlaws.  A terrific defensive back.  And Hollie Rhodes, who was a full one foot shorter than my 6-foot height and looked unlike any professional football player I've known but turned out to be a serious competitor on the field.  

Minori Jovel

And right now you're asking yourself why did these three players wind up with the Outlaws? 

That fateful day in 2003, when I attempted to launch my career as a professional football team photographer, was the very day the Austin Rage owner decided to shut down.  The few players at the practice field were getting the bad news via cell phone.  Others were notified by email. 

One of my favorite Outlaws, Tiffany "crash-test dummy" James, had been playing for the Rage while residing in Dallas, making the long commute several times a week.  On that day in 2003 she uprooted from Dallas and moved to Austin.  Only to find her team no longer existed. 

Many of the Austin Rage became Austin Outlaws.  Why?  Because playing football was important to them.  I've asked lots of players why a woman would want to play football and I've received lots of answers.  An underlying fact is that for those who choose to play, football is important to them.  Being part of this wonderful sport meets some personal need in their lives.  Football is so important some will commute a long distance to play.  So important they'll find another team if their own team folds. 

More important than owning a team is to many owners.

The Outlaws are playing their eleventh season.  I've already noted that is a remarkable accomplishment, keeping a team playing that many years.  In coming posts I'll explore why they've done so well.  For now, how about a hint? 

Two photos, one shot in year 2004 and the second five years later in year 2009. 

Look closely at this year 2004 photo and you'll see two reasons for the Outlaws longevity and success.
Study this photo, shot in 2009, and you may see what I see - the reason or reasons behind the Outlaws'
amazing history.

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