Friday, September 30, 2011

Ouch! Heavy

There's a term in space travel called "G's."  I don't understand exactly what it means but my own notion is that G is for gravity and G's of pressure represent is how it feels on your body when the spaceship blasts off.  Start with just one G and that's how you feel walking around.  Two G's means you're feeling twice as heavy as normal.  Three G's feels triple your own weight. 

So if you're taking off in space and experience four G's, it is like having three of yourself piled on top of you.   

This from an old game with Oklahoma City.  That year they boasted
having a line of all 300-pound plus ladies.  What did it feel
like having 1,200 pounds of football players on top of you?
There are lots of piles in football.  The runner goes down and a host of defenders and blockers land on top.  Ouch!  Does that hurt?  How many G's can one person handle?  I browsed my photos to see if there were any crushing images. 

And found a few.  

In earlier posts we've noticed football accommodates larger ladies.  If you're a small runner taken down by a large line player, you might experience two G's with just one person landing on you.

I don't know who the runner is but there's one 300 pound
tackler - that's two G's plus.  And the way her body is
being bent looks unnatural.  She did come out in good
shape.  No injuries. Not sure how.

This is a pile in progress.  I noticed the Dallas player at bottom right
in the photo.  Can't tell how many G's are on top but it looks painful.

I see Ski at bottom right.  A suggestion for tacklers - avoid pulling
the runner down on top of yourself.  Sure looks like an awkward
position with a few G's on top.  Ouch.

Another pile.  Would hate to be at the bottom.

This one is so much G's of pressure as just uncomfortable.  The bigger
player on top has her knees right on the back of the Outlaw on the
ground.  Shin  bones are hard.  Does that hurt?  Ouch.

Big tackler, small runner.  Two G's?

Okay, kept this one just because it is funny.  Tacklers seem to do
this a lot, pull the runner down on top of her.  Maybe that's just
being kind.  Smaller runner sitting on larger tackler. 

I think that's Tiffany at the bottom.  Had trouble finding
good photos of her because she was often hidden
beneath a pile of running backs.
One of my favorite Outlaws was Tiffany James.  She played at free safety and her job was to take down any runner who got through the line and linebackers.  Tiffany wasn't all that big, maybe 135 pounds, and often found herself facing runners coming fast and hard.  Early on, Tiffany wasn't a great tackler but she was tenacious.  What she lacked in style she made up in determination.  She would grab the runner and hang on and drag her down.  Normally with Tiffany on the bottom. 

She earned the nickname "Crash Test Dummy."

She also got much better at tackling - it was a matter of survival.

Monday, September 26, 2011

"The Big Advantage of Being Blind...", Derek Heyes, Part two

 When Outlaws fan Derek Heyes appeared last year on a BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) Television general knowledge quiz show and won £1,800  (about $2,700) in prize money, he topped his previous highlight achievement, winning the BBC “brain of sport” quiz, which was also a national quiz broadcast throughout the UK on  BBC.  Derek says he has always loved taking part in general quizzes and has played in local quiz leagues.  And he's good at it.

Neither quiz show asked questions about Women’s Professional Football.  If they had, Derek was ready.

Derek says he first came across the Austin Outlaws “whilst undertaking some research into minority sports for women.”   His research involved making contact with teams in the US to “gain more information and a greater insight into the women’s tackle scene across the Atlantic.”  He got responses from a number of teams and players involved in the sport.   

Laura Eddy

He says “the Outlaws were great in replying to me and providing me with lots of information about women’s tackle football and about their own set up and players.”  Outlaws general manager Lily Messina was especially helpful and also passed on his questionnaire to a number of Outlaw players. Several Outlaws responded, completing the questionnaire and “supplying me with data on themselves and about their feelings regarding attitudes towards the sport.”  Derek specifically mentions  Laura Eddy who “would always respond to my various questions very promptly and very honestly, and in this way helped me build up a better understanding of the playing styles and different tactical approaches that teams might adopt in the league.”  Many other players replied -  Sarah Snyder, Veronica Narvaez, Jill Elliott, Tiffany James, and others. 

Derek says the fantastic response he got from the Outlaws changed the way he viewed the team.  “I stopped being a detached observer and became a fan, albeit one who is many thousands of miles from Austin.  It was great to learn of a victory, and I also shared in the disappointment whenever a result did not go according to plan.”

I introduced you to Derek in this blog, a posting last Tuesday, September 20. And promised to follow-up with more about this remarkable man.

Blind since age six, he completed basic schooling in a program for the blind, went on to college and then a teaching career, from which he has recently retired.  He retired from teaching but continues to be a lifelong student.  He is constantly doing research into subjects that interest him and that might come up in his quiz contests.  His research is facilitated by special software on his computer that speaks everything on his screen. 

Much of his research into Women’s Professional Football involved visiting team websites.  Many of the sites, including the Outlaws, have limited information about the players. But he found the “Featured Player” articles we used to publish on the Outlaws site to be especially informative.  Through them he became fascinated that football not only accepts “Powerfully Built” players – it actually needs them.  His research has focused in part on the role of the larger ladies – on their fitness levels, on their contribution to team success, on how smaller players handle going up against bigger opponents. 

His interaction with the team and players has grown into friendship, both email and in person when Sarah Snyder and MaryLou Spenser have managed to visit Derek in England.  When Sarah brought three friends, Derek managed to fix them up with tickets to “watch a Manchester United soccer game at the famous Old-Trafford stadium.   I know they enjoyed the match and the experience of being part of a 70,000 plus attendance, and they also seem to have a great time with me and some of my pals as we undertook a tour of some of Manchester’s liveliest pubs!”

Derek with Sarah Snyder (just behind his right shoulder) plus
her friends and his, having a good time in a pub.

Derek and one of his friends with Sarah and three of hers.

Derek and I have exchanged emails regarding what he terms as “powerfully built” women who are so important in football.  He applauds when I report retired players are engaged in other sports activities and keeping fit.  He shares my annoyance at some social stigma against ladies who are bigger than average.  In this exchange he gave me an observation I’ll keep forever:

““The big advantage of being blind is that one does not have stupid prejudices based on a person’s physical appearance (what really counts is what they are like inside).”

I expect to post more on Derek.  He is a remarkable person and a friend of the Outlaws.

If you'd like to help him in his quest for more knowledge about football, please email him at:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Derek Heyes, Outlaws Fan in the UK

Sarah Snyder with Derek Heyes, Outlaws fan in the UK.
Former Outlaw Sarah Snyder says she wishes all the players could meet Derek Heyes.  "He's such an inspiration."    But meeting this Outlaws fan in person will involve serious travel - he resides in the United Kingdom.

Derek says “I have always been a sports fanatic, Manchester United being one of my greatest loves, but I never realized women played football (we call it American football over here) until stumbling across the Outlaws web site by accident several years ago."   His decision to know more about American football was consistent with his love his love of sports in general.  And his encyclopedic knowledge which, in 1981, helped him win the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)  “brain of sport” quiz, a national quiz broadcast throughout the UK on the BBC.   More recently, he has appeared on several TV quizzes including “mastermind”.

Seeking to learn more about American football and the role of women in this sport he used his computer to communicate with Lily Messina and several other Outlaws, establishing "firm friendships with MaryLou Spence and a number of former and current players including Laura Eddy, Jill Elliott, Hollie Rhodes, Sarah Snyder, Lorin Smith  and Veronica Narvaez."    MaryLou and Sarah have visited Derek in England.  Sarah says "he knew about everything and could talk – politics, soccer, football, American football including way back when history,  didn’t really matter."  
Derek was born in a village called Blackrod in the north-west of England on Jan. 20 1950.   His father was a coal-miner and mother worked in a local cotton factory weaving towels.

At the age of six he lost his sight following an accident.   "The only regrets I have had about being blind are not having the chance to play for Manchester United!   And not being able to watch animals in their natural habitat."  

From the age of eight until the age of  nineteen he attended special schools where all the children were visually impaired.  In 1969 he went to Nottingham university to study history and economics, graduating with honors in 1972.  

After taking a one year teaching course at Manchester University, he taught history, economics, and business studies in high school and was also a tutor and mentor where he kept abreast of the progress of around 20 students through weekly appointments.   Following  retirement from formal teaching last year, he still keeps in touch with the school and gives regular talks in morning assemblies on topics such as “coping with blindness” and guide dogs for the blind.

Derek got married in 1987.  His wife [Jayne] died from lung cancer in 1998.  His eighteen-year-old daughter, Sarah lives with him along with her boyfriend and a small menagerie of pets - I'll update the pet list for a future posting.   

This biographical background is offered with the purpose of piquing your interest in this remarkable Outlaws fan.  In following postings we'll get some of Derek's observations about the Outlaws and American football. 

Note: you can communicate with Derek at his email address:

To whet your appetite to learn more - Derek says "The big advantage of being blind is..." (more later).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Personal Note - Feedback Please

What do you like about this blog?  What should we change?

This blog was born as sort of a market test for a book.  With forty or so Outlaws on the team every year; with forty or so players on a hundred women's teams around the country, we have 4,000 ladies playing pro football every year.  Add families and friends - and a book about the Outlaws could sell a thousand or so copies. 

But is there really that level of interest?  And even granting 4,000 possible buyers, would this writer's writing interest them enough to buy a book by me?  Writing a book is hard work (and I'm lazy).  So lets test the market.  Put some of my book material in a blog and see if it attracts an audience.

So far it isn't attracting very many.  So far, it appears there wouldn't be much of a market for a book. 

What do you think?  I'll open the blog to allow you to comment directly.  Just select the comments option and let me know what you think.  Would a book sell?  What would make this blog attractive to more fans?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Football is like a church pew.

Sid was sitting on two chairs.  They were folding chairs.  I didn't notice at first that he was using two chairs because he was big enough the chairs were pretty much invisible behind him.  Big.  Football big.  He had tried out for the then Houston Oilers and almost made the team.  He had huge hands.  I'm big but my hand disappeared in his when we shook.  He was solid.  Lots of muscle on that huge frame. 

He wasn't all that tall but he was wide. 

Wider than a chair. 

Have you seen those folding chairs with hooks to connect them to each other.  The designers recognized that some people are wider than a chair.  These wide ones might want to move their chair to create more space.  Chair manufacturers seemed to favor discomfort and hooked the chairs together so wide people would just have to tough it out.  Or invade the personal space of whoever was next to them.

Have you ever flown coach class?  Those seats accommodate 145 pounds, max.  Bigget than that and you're uncomfortable.  Much bigger and you're miserable.  As is your neighbor.

But church pews are better.  Church pews don't pre-determine how much space you can use.  They're just one long bench so a big person can take up as much space as he/she desires.  And a small person as little space.  Nowadays pews are even padded for comfort.  That's why I love going to church - that's one place where they accept big people like me.

Football is like a church pew.  Football accepts big people.  If you're a running back, you love big people.  Your big offensive line keeps big defensive tacklers at bay.  In a previous  post I quoted KJ Scheib who said one of the things she loves about football is "they don't ask me to lose weight."  KJ wasn't all that heavy - 220 pounds on a 5' 10" frame.  And she carried her weight very well, was in excellent physical condition.

Which got me to thinking about the problem of being big in this small world.  For guys like me and Sid, it is inconvenient.  Constantly being crammed into too-small spaces.  Like airplane seats, folding chairs, or places at a banquet table - who ever invented rounds of ten?

But for ladies being big comes with all kinds of issues.  Someone somewhere decided that the females should be little.  I mean little - 110 pounds or less.  Tiny.  If you're a bigger woman you are constantly bombarded with negative messages.  You can't pick up a women's magazine that doesn't have some special diet promoted on the cover.  Television ads promote weight loss.  Television shows and movies grant stardom to skinny, derision to large.  Even though many bigger women are in excellent physical condition.  Even though artist Peter Paul Rubens in the 1600's recognized beauty-in-big and created a whole art genre featuring Rubenesque models.  Even though size is a function of genes and DNA, not personal choice.

In a future post I'll introduce you to Derek Heyes, a guy in England who has a unique perspective on the challenges of being big and female.   In this post I just want to comment about how football is just a great place for women of all shapes and sizes.

I don't know the player's names.  Can't find a roster
for that year.  This was a scrimmage at Waco.  Outlaws #64
was occupied with a much larger opponent.  She
appears to be doing fine but for the other player, being
big is a big advantage. 

Number 64 holding her own against her big opponent.

I like the way the Outlaw is getting low.  Also the way she's getting
help from teammates.  Often the bigger player is effective even
when she doesn't make the tackle, just because she occupies
two or three of the other team's blockers.

I think #65 is tall rather than "big".  But she appears to be a problem
for the Outlaw opposing her.  I need to interview players on both sides
of this subject - how does it feel to play against a larger opponent?
How does it feel to have a size advantage?

KJ with the ball and a whole lot of players trying
to tackle her.  She isn't all that big by the standards
of this posting but she is bigger than her would-be
tacklers.  And very strong.  Often big and strong go
together.  KJ played running back of one season,
then went back to the line where
her size and strength were most valuable.
Bein' big in football is great.  Let's hear it for the larger ladies.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Random Fan Photo

Go Horns!; Boo Longhorn Network

There was a song many many many years ago that included the lyrics "You always hurt the one you love, the one you shouldn't hurt at all." 

Those words came to mind last Saturday when I wasn't watching the Longhorns-Rice game.  UT chose to snub a lot of fans, a lot of people they should love, by narrow-casting that game on the Longhorn network.  Which is carried by my cable company.

Lots of us fans didn't get to see the Horns whip up on Rice. 

Not a big loss that the game was broadcast only on the Longhorns Network.  Texas vs BYU will be a lot more interesting.  And it was, wasn't it.  All day to day loyal longhorn fans dressed in expensive burnt orange  shirts, having paid a royalty to UT for the privilege of supporting the Longhorns.  Greeting each other and wishing the team success. 

Almost forgot about last Saturday.  Until all those ads telling us how happy we should be that there is a Longhorn Network, that keeps us from seeing certain selected Longhorn games.  Just like the NFL Network that prevents me from seeing at least one NFL game each week. 

Why should we be happy that the UT powers that be decided to create a network and then to pressure our cable company to pay UT lots of extra money to carry that network?  If Time Warner pays UT to broadcast the Rice game, that cost will be passed on to you and me - loyal fans.   Loyal friends.  We're the people UT should love, not hurt.  It is our fanship that makes football a huge profit-maker.  Why do they choose to hurt the ones they (should) love?

I'm personally glad Time Warner hasn't bowed to the Longhorn network.   I'm paying enough for my cable service, which is packaged with high speed internet service, and with unlimited phone service.  I'm not gonna  change all of that just to watch UT versus Rice.  And if the Longhorn network starts putting more games on the Longhorn network, I'll just become an Aggie!  That'll show em.

But wow, what a game today.  McCoy, Shipley, deja vu.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Every play is eleven individual battles.  If you win all eleven, you'll win the play.  That's an over-simplification.  Unless you're out there on the field.  On the field, when the ball is snapped, you're using skill and brute force to impose your will on the opponent. 

These individual battles are often away from the ball.  The camera and most fans follow the ball and don't see the individual contests going on play after play.  But later on my computer I can isolate this part of the game.  Today's post is to share some of this away-from-the ball action with you.  Some of the photos are a little blurry because I was focused on the ball carrier.  Some of the photos are older - taken from a scrimmage at Waco a couple years ago (sorry about that; maybe I'll get to more games and practices this year).  Many of these older photos feature still-active players. 

Sometimes a forearm high can discourage the blocker.
It's better to be lower than your opponent but this is a battle and sometimes you just do whatever you have to do.  If you're defense you want to control the space and shake off the blocker.  If you're offense, you want to keep the tackler engaged with you so she doesn't get to engage the runner. 

We're a team but these away-from-the-ball battles are individual, one-on-one.

It is hard to get the photo to convey just how much energy,
how much strength, these battles require.

How do you handle a tackler who is bigger?

This is an open field battle, not exactly in keeping
with the theme of this post.  But the point is
still there - a one-on-one battle for control.

This is line play.  Must be fun when you're
bigger than the linebacker you have to block.

 Many individual battles with cumulative outcomes determining the
outcome of the game.  Here one Outlaw has her opponent on the
ground, the other (Lily) is keeping her opponent away from the

Can you see the energy, strength against strength?

Three shots of Hooper in the Waco scrimmage.
Three separate plays. 

I like this because she's not just using strength. 
She's getting lower than the opponent to increase
her leverage. 

The tackler isn't going to get by.  Can you imagine how doing this
fifty times in a game would wear you out?  That's why football
players need to be in great physical condition.

Play after play after play the folks in the trenches struggle for position, use all their strength to control the opponent.  For the offense this can be a thankless job.  You're only noticed when the one you were blocking gets by you. 

When you watch a game sometime focus on the line play. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011


This blog is about the Outlaws and the people who contribute to this fantastic program.  In a couple previous posts we had fun featuring a couple coaches - Narlan Baker and Jon Hancock - who went beyond the call of duty and suited up to fill out the teams for a practice scrimmage. 

That was fun. 

Coaches kneeling by the tape as players show how
far they can jump, one of the drills involved in
trying out for the team.
But coaching is hard work. 

From overseeing tryouts in December through three-a-week practices from January to the end of the season in June, with lots of meetings in between, coaches work at helping players get in shape, at teaching rookies,  at planning and executing game plans. 

I browsed my photos for shots of coaches and I'm embarrassed to confess I haven't often focused on them.  Maybe in addition to player profiles I should do some coach profiles? 

This posting is an attempt to give some recognition to coaches past and present.  The captions will be inadequate - maybe some blog visitors would like to volunteer captions with names of the coaches pictured?  And there isn't a lot of organization because I didn't know I was going to do this.  Please just enjoy the photos.  And give appropriate credit to the coaches who give so much to the Outlaws.

This is one of my favorite shots of Frank.  He's been with the team
forever and is often quoted in my player interviews - "Frank said..."

Soho - is also an outstanding player. 

Feedback during the game is often the best feedback of all.
In practice is when you get to focus on
fundamentals, make certain the stance is
just right.

Coach Jon Hancock filling in on the line for a practice scrimmage.

I'm intrigued by the smile.  Maybe they're working on  a trick
play and enjoying the way it will confuse the opposing team?

Soho again - being serious.

Coaches hate when players are injured.  There is a
special relationship between team and coach, almost
like family.  Helping an injured player off the field is
painful for the coach as well as the player.

Narlan Baker is the current head coach.  I asked his wife Jay Jay, who plays on the defensive line, to tell me a little about Narlan.  She says he considers himself part of the team. "If we lose, he loses. He has the back of every player on the team."  He will do whatever it takes so that no one has an excuse not to play or be included on the team.

"He has even gone so far as taking his prize high school helmet that he had displayed on a shelf for years, had it repainted and repadded so that a potential player would have a helmet that fit." 

"This Team is his family. He has so much faith in each person.  If you miss a tackle or get zero yards, if the effort is there, he is proud."

He just doesn't want anyone to give up on themselves.

This is one of my favorite photos of Narlan Baker.  Just before kickoff he's still going over game plans.