Friday, July 8, 2011

Player Profile - Katherine "K.J." Scheib, #68 - Retired

Katherine "KJ" Scheib
Why would a woman play football? 

That was my first question when I started interviewing players to write about them on the Outlaws website.

K.J. Scheib gave the most memorable answer -  "They don't tell me to lose weight and they don't ask me to hold back." 

She was my first and most memorable player interview.  K.J. corrected misconceptions I might have had about women in football.  For one, I  didn't expect female athletes to be professional women. Well, KJ studied at Tulane, then transferred to University of Texas where the tuition was more manageable.  She earned a BA in English, then an MA at Texas Women's University in Denton.  She tried teaching at ACC but "didn't want to work full time to support my teaching habit" so she contracted with the State of Texas doing technical writing, training, systems analysis.  She achieved the true success in a bureaucracy, an office with door and windows. 

I did expect athletes to be physically strong but KJ is much stronger than I imagined.  She squats 150 pounds and explains the algorithm of reps to capacity.  She does push-ups, 50 in one minute.  She works out at the YMCA, jogs a couple miles with her dog.  She was regarded as the strongest woman on the team.

Oh, she also does Karate.  The photo here is with her brown belt but she has moved on to a black belt. 

Posing in front of mirrors at the karate studio.  (Personal note:
I don't do well at posed photos.)
KJ was an entertaining interview with lots of anecdotes.  She told about going to a sporting goods store and telling an older male clerk that she wanted football cleats.  Puzzled, he asked "What for?"  She resisted saying "I'm going ballroom dancing" and instead told him about the Outlaws. 

She admitted to stretching the rules a little to get a competitive edge.  In one game she pulled the other player down while yelling at her to let go so the official wouldn't penalize KJ. 

When I told her I was planning to write great articles about the Outlaws, maybe even a book, and get published and rich and famous, she did a little English-major critiquing and challenged my early drafts.  I hope she likes what I'm doing with this blog. 

She was the first player I asked the height/weight question.  Now that's standard form with male athletes and commonly the bigger the better.  But I worried women might be sensitive.  KJ replied non-committally, "I'm tall and I weigh a lot."  Finally she said she is 5' 9 3/4" and weighs between 210 and 220 pounds, lighter early in the season.  She then talked about BMI (body mass index) but I didn't really understand her point - remember she has the masters degree. 
KJ in the center.  When I showed her this photo she checked
to be sure her stance was just right.

She first played for the Rage, trying out when a friend played for them and KJ wondered if she could make the team.  She came to the Outlaws when the Rage folded.  KJ said she likes practicing more than the games.  "I like the challenge, trying things out." 

She made it a priority to learn a lot about the game and liked how complicated it is.  When I showed her a photo from a pre-game warm-up, she immediately focused on form and decided she was in the proper position for a lineman.
K.J. played center. The center is leader of the offensive line and KJ fits that role just right.  Her natural leadership came through when she said she likes the team aspect of football, enjoys the people, and then commented that she "can't stand it when people make a commitment and then don't show up (at practice).  Drives me bonkers!"  This was a reference to players who don't make every practice because of the  enormous demands placed on them, both physical and time for practice, meetings, and games.  In everything she does, KJ goes all out.  Even in practice.  Other players talked about having to go against KJ on the practice field - and being happy she's on our team.

She competed in sports in high school, saying she would have been bored without sports.  She commented on Field Hockey, a vicious vicious sport, ladies in full skirts with a big stick coming at you... I think she was serious.  Or was she kidding me.  Again.

KJ grew up in Dobbs Ferry, NY with one older brother.  Did you compete with him?  "Of course we competed!  We were siblings for goodness sake."  

When the Outlaws did the Jell-O wrestling fund raiser, KJ joined right in.  "It was just good clean fun, if you call a wading pool full of sticky yucky Jell-O clean."  Fun, yes, but still competition.  Because of KJ's size and strength coach Soho put two opponents in the pool against her.  With both of them hanging on her back, she pushed up to hands and knees, then straight up like a grizzly bear, and threw herself and opponents over backwards with KJ landing on top, pinning both for the victory. 

KJ heaving herself and two opponents on their backs having "good clean fun" in a fundraiser.

KJ leveraging her strength, getting just a
little lower than a larger opponent.
KJ's strength is impressive but she says there are others who are bigger and stronger.  She says with the right form you can make the most of your strength.  That means proper form when setting up on the line of scrimmage, back level or shoulders just a little higher.  It means getting lower than the opponent you are blocking. 

I worked with KJ on the website - well, she was the one who did the website and I contributed photos and featured player articles.  I developed a great respect for her in my interviews with her, in watching her handle the website, in watching the quality of her play.  She carried a heavy work load at the State offices, made it to every Outlaws practice and game, worked out in the gym and the Karate studio, and did the website. 

And in her spare time...

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