COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Thunderkatz, Colorado Springs’ semi-professional women’s football team, is heading to the playoffs for the first time in the team’s 7-year history.
“It’s… it’s freaking awesome,” said Wyshana Brooks, the Thunderkatz wing back and receiver.
Brooks is just one of three women nationally to break 1000 yards this season and undoubtedly a contributing force behind the Thunderkatz playoff berth.
“I love this,” she said. “The adrenaline and the passion that I have for this game, it grows by the practice, it grows by the game, it keeps me coming back.”
The team recorded just one win last season and has consistently struggled with physical size but under the direction of a new coach, the Thunderkatz finished 5-1 in the Mountain West division.
“It’s just the dedication and just the talent that we have and the heart,” said Alicia Brokaw, the team’s quarterback. “Some of these girls this year, I think over half of our team are all rookies, so it’s just been amazing.”
“I’ve been very surprised by the competitiveness of the games,” said head coach Demareo Pruitt. “The league is very organized, the girls have done amazing. Some of the injuries they get, the knicks and knacks — it’s real football.”
The Thunderkatz play in the Women’s Football Alliance, a league comprised of 60 teams who play full contact 11-on-11 football.
“Once people find out that there’s a team and they actually see us, they’re like wow this is legit,” said Brokaw. “Hopefully we continue to grow our fan base.”
Growing up, many of these women say the opportunity to play football simply wasn’t there mostly because the sport is still associated with men — a stigma that they’re hoping they can change.
“We’re hoping that this will help the younger generation be able to play high school football,” said Linda McQuade, an outside linebacker for the Thunderkatz. “Maybe they’ll have a girls high school football teams so it’s really about advancing the sport for the future of women’s football.”
“Like I always encourage little girls,” said Brooks. “They ask when they see me in uniform, ‘Hey you play football?’ and I’m like ‘Yeah I play.’ [They say] girls can’t play football [and I say] ‘Yes you can, yes you can.’ We’re changing that. The fact that I’m part of this organization, a part of this league, I feel better because the girls that are following up behind us can be able to play.”
The team will travel to take on South Oregon in the first round of the Division III playoffs June 17. If they win, they’ll return to Colorado Springs to play at Garry Berry Stadium on July 8.
If you’d like to help support the team’s trip to Oregon, they’ve started a GoFund Me page.
For more information on the team, check them out on Facebook.