Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ereka - Part 2

You need to understand I don't know the players.  Yet.  I've been going to practices and tryouts and shooting lots of photos but not doing interviews.  Not getting to know the players.  I know some of the ladies who have been around awhile, like Ski and Tiffany.  But not those who have joined the team this year.  Or last year.  Or the year before. 

So you're getting lots of photos and not many words. 

I have more pictures of Ereka than any other player.  And this one is the reason.  Her facial expression.  From the time she started her pass reception route her facial expressions were captivating.

Normally I set my camera on the end of the passing route, trying to capture the moment when the ball and receiver come together.  But I was so fascinated by Ereka's energy, her total involvement, her facial expressions - that I started following her through the entire pass route.  Click click click - just kept shooting at 2.5 frames per second. 

I posted a few of my Ereka pics with my last post.  I'm posting a few more today.  And someday I'll interview her and tell you more about her.

Or is an interview necessary?  Do these photos tell you who Ereka is?


Monday, February 27, 2012


I missed Saturday's practice.  Really sad about that because I want to see how Ereka performs under game conditions.  I've love her intensity in practices.  How will that translate to games?  I suspect she'll be a star. 

This has evolved to a photo blog.  I intend to interview players and offer lots of profound prose to accompany the photos.  But the players are busy with three-a-week practices and full time jobs, and I'm busy with broken plumbing and broken hips (an elderly friend).  Wanting to provide frequent posts to this blog, I've been relying on photos.

Maybe photos are better than words.  I'd like to explain why I'm so fascinated by Ereka but maybe explaining isn't necessary.  Maybe if I post photos, you'll see for yourself.  So, without more comment, here's Ereka.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shadana - part 2

Shadana is taking this season off.  She will be missed.  This would have been her seventh year. 

Shadana is 5'6" and says she weighs 165.  She is strong - lots of muscle on that 5'6" frame.  And quick.  And fast.  She has provide me with lots of  great action photos.  I posted a few on Wednesday and today I'm posting some more. 


Sidelined with an ankle sprain during the final game of 2011. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Ya know, this blog is a classic case of poor timing.  I started it just after the last game of the 2011 season, when all the players and fans were moving on to summertime interests.  I started it after missing two seasons of Outlaws games, so my game photos go back so far only the veterans remember playing on those fields.  I publish a book of blog posts right after Christmas.  Would have made a great Christmas gift if I had published it a month sooner.  Except for material gleaned in recent tryouts and practices, the blog and book are Outlaws history.  The players I've profiled - Monica, Lily, Vero, Alex, Jill, Lorin - all retired.  Or taking this season off. 

Off the field Shadana is a delightful funny un-serious young
woman.  On the field she gets serious. furrowed brow, focused
eyes, stiff arming would-be tacklers.
Now Shadana says she is taking a season off.  I've been collecting Shadana photos.  I have interview notes from when I featured her for the Outlaws website.  I planned to interview her again and update my information.  The original interview was in 2007 when she was in her second year as an Outlaw. 

She told me by Facebook message that she's taking a season off to spend more time with her daughter Makayla.   So I've decided to do an abbreviated profile.  Few words, lots of photos.

Shadana "Bo Peep" Hurd joined the Outlaws in 2006.  At the time she was living in San Antonio where she "had great job with great company, Medi-fit, setting up fitness programs for large corporations."  She taught classes, was personal trainer, set up informational visits at the facility about diabetes, breast cancer.  Then she heard about the Outlaws.  

She came to Austin for tryouts.  She had never played football but, at the University of Texas, San Antonio, she  Ran track four years, played basketball for a year and another year at at Garden City in Kansas.  She won honors as a collegiate track sprinter.  She ran an 11.8 100 Yard dash.  Trying out for the Outlaws, she did a 4.7 40 yard dash in borrowed shoes.  "I didn’t think to bring shoes,  just had tennis shoes, and borrowed Monica’s shoes." 

If Shadana gets a step on you you aren't going to catch her.
The tryouts became a mutual admiration relationship.  He speed dazzled the Outlaws coaches and the Outlaws players impressed Shadana.  She quit her San Antonio job and moved to Austin.   And began a wonderful career eluding  defensive players.  If she got a step on the defense, she'd go a long way. 


She got the nickname "Bo Peep" when she came to an Outlaws meeting wearing sweater, frilly, V-Cut.  Soho called her BoPeep and it stuck. 

Interviewing Shadana was fun because of her excitement and energy.  I asked her about the first time she ran the ball in a game and she told relived the experience.  "I was in the backfield and we called a toss to right or left or something and it always worked we always scored on this play and I lined up and Monica was lead blocking on left and I’m standing there and I know it’s coming to me and I try not look like I’m getting the ball and then it is hiked I look and I ruined the play because I didn’t know where I was supposed to go so I went wide and the play was I should go tight off tackle’s butt but I go out wide and I notice they aren’t catching me and I’m like haha gotcha and we scored and coach Geoff yelled 'you’re not following directions..."  She says that after that "any time I screw up a play but it works Geoff says great coaching on his part." 

They will not catch her. 

I suspect this is a broken play.  Shadana eludes the tacklers and
races around the left end for a good gain.

She is strong.  No way the leaping tackler is going to get her down.

I post more photos of Shadana soon.  And more stories about this remarkable athlete. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Women vs Men; Why Do Women Play Football?

Why do women play football?  When I interview players for my featured player articles I always ask.  For a future blog post I'll compile responses.  But the answers haven't been very illuminating.  Sometimes a "why not?" challenge comes back to me.  For many the answer is simply because she wants to, because it is a great game. 

Coach Bobbie
Then I try to stir up a little conflict or competition.  I ask if the women want to get into the men's league.  In school days girls were historically denied the opportunity to try out for football.  Is women's pro ball opening the door to the NFL.  NFL pay is pretty good. 

Coach Bobbie was one of my early interviews.  She said "We're not women trying to be men; we just want to play a game that is typically deemed for men."

That was a great answer, one she repeated to me a week ago.  But I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

The Outlaws share a practice field with the Central Texas Wolf Pack, a men's football team made up of firefighters and law enforcement officers,  part of the National Public Safety Football League.  The Wolf Pack has the field for the two hours before the Outlaws 10:30 a.m. time slot. 

Now I want you to understand I've been an Outlaws fan for many years.  I have a high regard for the talent of these ladies, Ski, Monica, Shadana, Soho.  When I saw the guys leaving the field as the Outlaws arrived, I had this silly idea.  Fortunately I didn't share it with anyone.   I decided to keep quiet until I had a chance to meet some of the Wolf Pack. 

See the football.  It is where the tackling dummy was.
When this guy hit the dummy he almost broke it in two.
The following week I came early and shot lots of photos of the guys.  Here are a few examples. 

He's a big guy.  Slightly airborne.  Note the football.  He has
moved the dummy, too.  The dummy is airborne.

Love this shot.  Focus not perfect but
still you see his elevation.

One fact was immediately obvious.  Men are different from women.  Bodies are built different.  More mass.  When men hit the dummies, they hit harder than women do.  When men jump, they jump higher.  When the guys scrimmaged the pads popped louder.  The guys on the line were six feet tall and solid 250 to 300 pounds. 

So I smiled when I raised my silly idea to Bobbie because there is no way the women are going to scrimmage the men.  Bobbie said we shouldn't try to teach women "to play the way the men do.  We should teach women to pay according to their strengths."  She observed that "men come from a brutal standpoint.  We (women) aren't out to kill people, to rip your head off."

I've enjoyed watching the women play football.  I've admired their athletic ability and their wonderful work ethic.  Their enthusiasm.  Their energy.  The games have been competitive.  And fun to watch.  But for reasons now obvious to me, the women aren't ready to take on the men.
I talked with one of the newer Outlaws, Megan.  She said she played a couple years of football in high school.  At the outset, she was about equal to the boys in size and strength.  But she stopped growing and the boys didn't. 

(You can see more of my Wolf Pack photos at my photo sharing website.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Faces of Football

I was going to call it "Player of the Week" but KJ Scheib suggested "Featured Player" instead.  She said one a week may be difficult.  Better to do as many as I could as often as I could without getting tied to firm commitment.

Thank you KJ.

I started featuring players for the Outlaws website.  I've done about twenty or so - um, that's a lot fewer than one a week.  I used a question form to get information from the player.  Then I'd meet the player over coffee at Starbucks for an interview and head-and-shoulder photo.  From the interview and question form I'd write an article.  I'd illustrate it with game photos and KJ would publish it to the website.

These featured player articles were going to be the foundation of this blog. 

It isn't happening.  I'm having trouble making time to meet players for the interviews.  Players are busy with practice three days a week plus many of them have to work for a living at a real job (I'm retired).  Seems we should be able to overcome these obstacles but at the rate I'm going this could be titled "Player of the Year."  I am working a few profiles. 

I really really want to get Lucinda "CPR" Benitez interviewed; her question form was complete long ago and she is a fascinating person as well as a great player.  But she lives south and I live north and she's busy and I'm lazy... 

I'm almost ready to publish Marisa "Cookie" Rivas.  We've done the interview and I have lots of photos ready.  Just waiting for her to see and approve the article.  I never publish without player approval.

One alternative approach I could do more quickly is just to publish action photos of a player.  I may start doing that.  I have lots of wonderful photos of Ereka Howard.  But I'd really rather include some information about her.  Judging by her photos she's a fascinating person.  I suspect she'll be fun to watch in games this season. 

Long intro - for today's post I'm just going to publish some up-close photos.  I wonder if they play as well on your computer as on mine?  I have hundreds.  I'm posting shots I like.  Hope you like them too. 

This is Ereka.  If she looks familiar it is because I've used
lots of photos of her.  Love her energy, her enthusiasm.

Don't know her name (or did I forget?) 

Calls herself Lucky.  She's new.  Isn't playing but working
to help with all the stuff that needs to be done. 

Gina.  She's from Michigan.  So am I.  So we're friends. 

Eyes on the ball...

My friend Ski Tejeda.  Grandma.  My kind of player.  You've seen her in my blog.
Look at the jersey.  She is a football player.

Coach Bobbie.  She smiles a lot.  I like this shot.

Vero.  Taking a year off from football.  She was one of
my recent featured players.  Remarkable young woman.