MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
In March 1917, the United States Navy swore in their first female. Ninety-five years later Lt. Kristin Love, division officer of the Patient Administration Department, Naval Hospital, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, has not only taken advantage of the ability to serve in the United States military as a female, but has pushed the status quo even further.
Love is a defensive back for the San Diego Surge, an all female tackle-football team of the Women’s Football Alliance.
After enjoying the thrill of flag football in college, Love looked into finding a team upon arriving to Camp Pendleton. To her dismay, the Naval Hospital did not have a flag football team.
In search of a local, female-friendly football team, Love found the San Diego Surge.
“I was a little apprehensive about doing it, but after the first couple of practices you get used to having all the gear on and getting hit,” Love said.
When going through the first tryouts, she was trying for the position of wide receiver, Love explained. She felt she had enough speed to outrun the other players, and even if she couldn’t, maybe it won’t be that bad.
“I’ll never forget the first time I got hit, it was an experience to say the least,” Love said. “My ears were ringing and I went home with so many bruises. I have never been more grateful for epsom salt and ice.”
It’s hard to train a woman’s mind and body to hit somebody, said team-mate Stephanie Tomlinson, jersey number 5, Tackle football is something that women typically don’t do.
After eight months of practice, the San Diego Surge played their first match.
“Butterflies in your stomach; that doesn’t express how I felt that day,” Love said. “I remember being in awe.”
From the first game to the upcoming championships, Love has seen her team evolve, as well as herself.
“There were times that I wasn’t sure if I could stick it out, because it was physically challenging, and demanding of your time,” said Love. “I feel like I’ve grown a lot and I am proud of myself for sticking with it.”
As for the San Diego Surge, Love said they have come together as a team.
Everyone has something to contribute, Tomlinson said. Love knows how to get in and get the job done.
“I think one of the things that determine whether a team is successful or not is how you interact with one another, as well as your cohesiveness,” said Love.
The San Diego Surge is currently 10-0 and will be playing the American Conference Championship game against Dallas. The winners of this game will have a chance at the 2012 SilverSport Women’s Football Alliance National Championship in Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Aug. 4.
“I feel so honored to be part of the league,” said Love. “San Diego Surge is more than just a professional women’s football team, it is a sisterhood of women who foster diversity, break barriers and are destined to make history.”
Tickets for the 2012 SilverSport Women’s Football Alliance National Championship are available at ticketmaster.com.
Live coverage of the Championship will be provided by ESPN3, making the event available to 73 million homes nationwide and to 21 million U.S. college students and U.S. based military personnel. It is accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smart-phones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE.
Coverage will also be provided by espnW, the largest destination for female sports fans worldwide.
For more information on the Women’s Football Alliance, visit www.wfafootball.com.