Saturday, December 10, 2011


It's a guy thing.  In any group of guys we're all quietly assessing each other, making a mental list of which ones we'd be able to handle in a fight.  One guy I always knew I'd avoid was John.  He wasn't all that big - maybe 5' 9" and 165 pounds?  But solid.  All muscle.  Not gaudy muscle but the kind you see if you're paying attention, muscle rippling under the skin when he signs his name.  Quiet the way confident people can be quiet.  He had a tattoo back before tattoos were popular. 

There was an incident at an office party.  A young executive thought it would be good fun to toss John into the pool.  Bad idea.

Don was taller, over 6'.  Weight around 180.  In his mid-forties, younger than John by about ten years.  In good shape.  But not solid, not hard the way John was.  Don grabbed John.  Couldn't move him.  Tried harder.  Got frustrated.  Things got heated.  Could have gotten ugly but the top executive at the party told them to stop clowning around. 

I wasn't there.  When I heard about it I was amazed.  Every other guy on staff knew not to mess with John.  No one of us, probably no two of us, could get John to do anything John didn't want to do. 

John was at the bottom of my list.  If I had to select anyone in that staff group to fight, he'd be the last.  And if it came down to it, me versus John, I'd run. 

CheNell "Soho" Tillman-Brooks
Soho looks like an athlete even
when she's just waiting to get into the game.
I still do a little of this sizing up.  I'm past the age of fighting, past the age of running, too.  But I still notice who it is I would least like to meet under hostile conditions. 

Like in a football game?


She's quiet, friendly.  But there's something about her that tells me she could be trouble.  The fluid way she walks tells me she's an athlete.  The way she carries herself.  The first few years I knew her she was coaching.  Then in 2009 she suited up and played a season with the Outlaws.

This posting is a sample of Soho.  I've posted other shots of her in this blog, one making a devastating tackle on a Houston runner - you can see that one if you go back to the posts about tackling.  Someday I'll do an interview and post her profile.  Today's posting is just from one day, that scrimmage in Waco a couple years ago. 

Intimidating isn't she.  If you had the ball and saw Soho coming,
you'd be wise to run fast, or hand off.

Soho played defense.  She played in the line even though I had her pegged as defensive secondary.  She isn't very big.  But she says "I'm not a stickler for size.  Time and time again, I've seen women the size of Monty (Gauck, 135 pounds) knock the crap out of women the size of KJ.(Scheib, 220 pounds)"   For a few years she played for the Houston Energy, at offensive tackle.  She was "usually 75 pounds or more smaller than the defensive lineman."  That gave her an edge because the opponent thought she'd have an easy time against the smaller player.  Soho admitted to me she sometimes "found myself giggling as I stepped over the d-linemen that I knocked on her backside."  

There's power in that left arm.  Power in the right arm, too.
Like my friend John, Soho's muscle isn't gaudy but sometimes
you see it, as in this photo as she grabs the ball carrier.

If you have the ball, chances are pretty good you're going to
see Soho up close and personal.

Always around the ball, here Soho is diving to recover a fumble.  She often causes fumbles, as you'll see below.

The following is a sequence of photos showing excellence in action.   It starts with Soho being blocked out of the play.  Not.  The freeze frame doesn't show the force of the impact, doesn't show the way #3 is powering into and then off of the hapless blocker.  Then the path to the quarterback.  Remember in a previous post we talked about quarterbacks having three seconds to pass the ball or hand it off.  This quarterback didn't pass, which she intended to do.  Didn't hand off. 

The series of photos stops the action.  Actually the whole series took about four seconds.  There is about one-third of a second from one shot to the next.  Things are happening fast.  My camera just slows the action so you can see.  Well, let's look at the photos...

It looks like she's being blocked but looks are decieving.  Note the blocker
has a size advantage.  This isn't a stand-off.  It isa hit. 

One third of a second later, Soho discarding the blocker
getting a  bead on the quarterback.

One third of a second later, Quarterback in trouble. 
Note she, too, has a size advantage.
Or is that really an advantage? 

Quarterback still has the ball, still thinks she's going to throw  a pass.  Nope.

Soho has her.  Size difference apparent.  And irrelevant.

A third of a second later.  Collision!
Soho in the air.  Securing the tackle,
knocking the ball loose.

The ball is on the ground.  The quarterback is soon going to join it.

Not just tackling now, steering the quarterback's fall away
from the ball.

The play ends with Soho on top.  Not the first or last time in the scrimmage.  Nor the season.

Soho says size isn't what counts.  "The heart is the most powerful thing in sports." 

If I were playing football, I'd just as soon be facing someone else on the line.  Anyone else. 

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