Portland’s own tackling titans: The Portland Shockwave

By Daniel Borgen, PQ Monthly

Far from “powderpuff” — the ladies of Shockwave play rough. Photo by Jenn Drake

We’d put money on the following: we’re betting you didn’t know our fair city boasted a collection of ladies with such tenacity and athletic prowess that they formed their own football team.

OK, maybe we’d lose that bet — but did you realize there’s an entire league? (Independent Women’s Football League.) Oh, you knew that too? Damn. Well, we’re thinking that — despite all your women’s football knowledge — you’ve never had a sneak peek into this football team’s collective psyche, you’ve probably not glimpsed how they tick. We got to do just that when we chatted with members of the Portland Shockwave; we talked to rookies and years-long members. The fruits of our labor can be found below.

Time to talk football: more specifically, why? The more athletically-challenged among us want to know why anyone would subject themselves to the sweat, the exertion, the tackles involved with a sport like football.

Tara Krugel, rookie member, had this to say: “I love football — whether I’m watching my favorite teams, playing Madden, or preparing for a fantasy draft. So to have the chance to play the sport I love, one of the only ones that happen to value big, mammoth women like me, is a lot of fun and learning it on the field just makes me appreciate the game even more.” Candid, self-deprecating. We like those kinds of answers.

Katelyn Bailey, who’s in her second year, expands a bit: “Initially I played because I was an athlete all throughout high school and college and I wanted to continue to be involved with team sports. But by far, I was continued playing because of the community of women I get to play with every week. They are some of the most inspiring and intriguing people I know.” Waxing sweetly and seriously — we like that, too.

So, a few nuts and bolts regarding the whys. Clearly some are born for athletic greatness, others of us — well, we can buy tickets and watch! Spectators play a very important role, right? Anyway, imagine if these footballers had only a handful of words to convince you to sign on — and even if those don’t necessarily work, we’re betting the pitches will be enough to get you out and cheering them on.

Bailey has more: “Have you ever wanted to wake up every morning feeling like you were run over by a truck? Have you ever wanted to explain strange bruises covering your arms to strangers? Do you enjoy being soaking wet, despite wearing four layers of clothing, while the temperature dips into the 30s — only to be thrown into a puddle again? Probably not.”

“But,” she continues, “have you ever had your car break down and not known who to ask for help? Or been under the weather and short on cash and wanted a nurse to give you some advice? Or just needed someone to look after your kids or pets without expecting a paycheck? Then play women’s football. We’re a big happy family that takes care of each other.

“And, since no one is getting a sweet $10 million signing bonus, we go to the office every morning so that we can take a red-eye flight to another state and win a game that no one knows exists in a sport that everyone expects women to fail [playing]. When you stand in the end zone and realize that together a teacher, a stay-at-home mom, a PhD student, a mechanic, and a waitress just scored a touchdown, you realize a lot of things are possible.”

Liani Reyna, a third-year veteran, echoes those rather inspirational observations: “If you’re a huge fan of football, wanted to play, but never thought you could, this is a great team to play for. There’s a mix of veterans and rookies, so learning the game is made easier.”

Or, you know, there’s always: “Become legendary — become a Shockwave.” That pitch courtesy of newcomer (rookie!) Jamie Nordby.

So the Shockwave are the stuff of legend, apparently. Looks like we have one more in a long list of reasons to head out and see for ourselves. Are you in?


More information — including a complete schedule — can be found at www.portlandshockwave.com/. Go see for yourself! Want to see your team or sport in the pages of PQ? Email daniel@pqmonthly.com/.