Seattle has not one but two women’s football teams. How lucky are we? The Seattle Majestics and The Seattle Spartans are unique, with distinct traits, but both are helping women break barriers in a traditionally male sport and paving the way for gender equality in athletics.
The Majestics are part of the WNFC (Women’s National Football Conference), and are led this year by Head Coach Charles Miles and a talented team of assistant coaches and other support staff. Although it’s his first year with this team, Coach Miles brings over twenty years of experience with him, having coached all around his home state of Washington. The players come from all over the state and bring a wide range of experience themselves, from rookies to more seasoned pros. But all of them seem eager to learn: “They’re like sponges,” Coach says. So it’s really fun when when you get to just coach football and talk football with them. And just let them know that you know, football’s not a foreign sport anymore.” He says he can shape them like clay, helping them reach their fullest potential.
Coach Miles just hopes that the women are having fun and building confidence in the process. Also important to him is assuring the women that they deserve to be there: “One of my biggest passions is to empower them; to let them know that, you’re not just playing a boy sport. You’re playing your sport. You’re playing professional football. And I have so many ladies that have been told over the years, ‘You can’t play football ’cause you’re a girl.’ I use that in our favor,” he says.
But skeptics shouldn’t be so quick to underestimate the Majestics. Coach Miles seeks to build both mindset and muscle. The players come committed, spending hours practicing three times a week, training hard as they juggle work, family and professional lives outside of athletics. He says that he is inspired by their commitment to the game and the passion they bring, which mirrors his own. When he’s not at work, he’s still surrounded by football: watching it on television, playing Madden, replaying game videos. Victories are important, of course, but Coach Miles also hopes to continue the team’s philanthropic efforts, making impacts both on and off the field.
When they’re not scoring touchdowns, the players are helping out in the community, like cleat fundraisers, football clinics with Seattle Public School students, or helping a school with its first ever girls’ football team. They’ve also helped out with Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. And at the end of practices during the month of March–Women’s History Month–Coach Miles would encourage players to verbally share something about one powerful woman. Keeping these strong examples in mind will no doubt help them as they enter April and into their new season.
The Spartans are a part of the WFA (Women’s Football Alliance) in the U.S. They’ve got an intense practice schedule: five days a week, which helps with winning games and also strengthening bonds. Lauren Blaser, a first-year lineman, is currently injured, but still attends practices to support her teammates. “We have great morale here, like everyone is very positive and cheerful of each other,” she says. For Blaser, the sport is an outlet as well as a form of recreation: “No matter what you’re doing, what’s going on during the day, you can come out to practice… It’s a good way to get your aggression out in a positive way first. And obviously, the sport itself is just really fun. I’ve grown up watching football my whole life and my brother played, but they didn’t really have girls football. So this was really my first opportunity.”
Blaser hopes that they can build the program, attract more viewers, and help the women coming after them. “[We hope to] pave the way and giving them an opportunity and a voice, and bringing more attention to women’s sports in general,” she explains. Owner Nicole Parham shares those sentiments: “We’re starting to see women as not being you know, those delicate pretty flowers, they can only do the pretty sports but they can also do the powerful sports so I think that that’s something that’s been shifting recently and I think women’s football is going to benefit from that. That’s my hope.”
And they look to Boni Weasley, in her first year as Head Coach with the Spartans, to guide the team. Weasley was previously Assistant Coach, and is happy to make up for lost time from the pandemic and bring her passion into this leadership position. Coach Weasley hails from the South, where sports are taken pretty seriously, and brings years of experience coaching as well as playing overseas. She is a self-identified football fanatic who can compete and has as much knowledge of the sport as a man. Weasley hopes to pair her own grit and determination with that of the Spartans players for a successful season. She recognizes the importance of this role; that this is bigger than just her: “Being a head coach, especially with a women’s tackle football, it means a lot, because, you know, you don’t have that many women in head coaches, especially a dominant male sport, right. So, you know…you’re breaking barriers,” she says.
Weasley also hopes to build accountability and minimize mistakes to avoid injuries to themselves or others, and giving it all they’ve got–100% of themselves, 100% of the time: “You’ve got to make sure you bring that to the field every time. Every time you step on the field, every play counts.” And Weasley wants to help them to find their purpose for playing, whether that is their families, themselves, or something else, and to see what they are capable of: “I don’t want you to be a player. Anybody can be a player, I want you to be an athlete.” The team also finds ways to uplift not only each other but the community: with clothing drives, food drives (donation of a canned good gets you a discount to games!), cleaning streets, and more.
Although we still have a long way to go (in terms of pay, sponsorships, and respect to name a few), we are living in a time where great strides have been made in women’s soccer and women’s basketball. Now is the time to usher in change for women’s football, too. And as usual, the city of Seattle is leading the way.
Visit the Majestics and Spartans websites to learn more about the teams and their history, see the 2022 roster and game schedule, and most importantly: to purchase season tickets or individual game tickets!