DMC student Brittany Fowler can often be spotted on West Campus in a tank top on the way to her EMT class, but off campus she’s trading her tank top for football pads and a helmet.
Fowler is attending Del Mar to earn her Paramedic Certification, just recently completed the Firefighter Academy and in May, Fowler joined the first Corpus Christi women’s full-contact football team, CC Mermaids.
“I love sports, I’ve been involved with sports all my life,” Fowler said. This love of sports is one of her primary reasons for joining the football team”, she said.
A class of 2003 Ray High School graduate, Fowler accepted a scholarship to A&M-Corpus Christi for Division 1 Basketball from 2003-07 and she said her physical background of Army and firefighter training, sports and future paramedic certification gives her a high level of motivation for the football team.
Mermaids’ owner Rebecca M. Garza is the first Latina to have 100% ownership over a full-contact female football team and the first woman to have full ownership of a sports team in a male-dominated field.
The Mermaids are the first official minor league woman’s full-contact football team and is modeled on Garza’s first team, the Texas Cowgirls in San Antonio, formed in 2010. Garza said she decided to return to her hometown of Corpus Christi and create another team of female athletes who were interested in committing to competing in the sport this June, further expanding the competition in the league.
Garza said her inspiration is through her own trials and tribulations as well as the unique stories of all her players and the experience they take from the sport. The Mermaids owners and players may come off the field as some very physical athletic players but the labor of it all is simply a labor of love.
The CC Mermaids is comprised of 17 players and tryouts are currently being held for more players in the best possible physical condition. Many of these women carry on their careers as a CC Mermaid while managing other aspects of their lives such as school. Fowler is an all-around player who holds positions as quarterback, receiver and defensive/offensive line.
The team’s outfits are volleyball-style shorts, football helmets and jerseys with padding, but organizers said the team isn’t just woman in helmets with skimpy clothes on getting dirty. Garza is currently working on upgrading the uniforms to be more innovative and protective while still being stylish.
Sometimes the first reaction to an all-female team is that women play and act very differently than males, but these women play just as hard physically and with mechanics equal to males, Garza said.
Referring to the reaction to the team’s first scrimmage, Garza said, “Once the [the audience] sees that these woman are actually running real routes, plays, and playing just as hard as men do, the first thing people ask me when its over is ‘When’s the next game?’”
The sport has appeal to all adults, male and female, and children. The last game before the 2011-2012 season had a turnout of 1284 people. With the league now working on expanding to 16 teams from cities in Texas to New Mexico, organizers believe the numbers are bound to rise with time.
Football is normally viewed as a male-dominated sport but the emergence of female football leagues gives women an opportunity to take part in the sport in ways that are not as degrading as innovations like the Lingerie Football League (LFL), according to Garza.
The next exhibition games will be held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22-23 in Corpus Christi, location to be decided. For more information on Coach Management intern positions, tryouts and more visit the team’s website, www.ccmermaids.com.