The D.C. Divas Partner With Holiday For Hope 2014

This holiday season, the D.C. Divas are partnering with Holiday For Hope 2014, the largest holiday celebration for homeless and underprivileged children in the DC metro area. The Holiday For Hope celebration provides a day of food and entertainment for some of the neediest members of our community. Several Divas players and staff will be volunteering to help serve at this fun-filled event for over 800 homeless and underprivileged children and their family members.

Holiday for Hope is made possible through the work of philanthropic individuals and organizations in the national capital area who are passionate about giving back and being involved in their community. Holiday For Hope has developed relationships with many organizations and shelters in the D.C. metro area that serve homeless and underprivileged youth to ensure that the participants at Holiday For Hope are those who need it most.

The Divas would like to invite our fans to join us in volunteering for Holiday For Hope. Volunteers will receive a full day of entertainment, a holiday feast, and a bag of gifts. Most importantly, they will have an opportunity to make the holiday season a little brighter for those in need.

Holiday For Hope 2014 will be held on Sunday, December 14, from 8 AM to 5 PM. The event will be held at Delta Produce, 1617 Eckington Place NE, Washington, DC.  For more information, please contact Tiffany Nickerson at fnewine@gmail.com.

The D.C. Divas are proud to support Holiday For Hope 2014 and their efforts to help needy children this holiday season. Please consider joining us at the Holiday For Hope event on December 14!

Washington, DC – You may have heard this story before. The Divas’ season, it seems, always comes down to this.

When the D.C. Divas (5-3) travel to Boston Saturday to face their archrivals, the Boston Militia (8-0), it will mark the sixth consecutive season that these two teams have faced each other in the playoffs. It will break the record for most playoff meetings between any pair of teams in women’s football history, currently shared by the Sacramento Sirens and Seattle Majestics (2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2012).

What’s incredible about the Divas’ and Militia’s rivalry, however, is that these two teams have clashed in the postseason six years in a row. The D.C. Divas and Boston Militia have met in the playoffs every season since 2009. Other than the Divas and Militia, no two teams in women’s football history have ever met in the playoffs more than three seasons in a row.

The D.C. Divas qualified for the conference semifinal round with a convincing 69-8 victory over the Columbus Comets. “It was probably the best all-around performance we’ve ever had against Columbus,” Divas head coach Alison Fischer remarked. “We have a lot of respect for the Comets. They have some great athletes and they’re very physical, so to have that kind of performance against a team like Columbus feels pretty good.”

In their regular season finale, the Divas fell behind against the Boston Militia, 21-0, a deficit that largely contributed to the Divas’ 29-28 defeat. Fischer was particularly pleased with how the Divas were ready to play from the opening whistle against Columbus.

“We challenged the team to get off to a faster start, and I think they did that on both sides of the ball. That was very good to see,” Fischer said. “You like to see the offense and the defense clicking at the right time and building as the season goes on, and I think we definitely responded and rebounded against Columbus.”

Now the Divas must hit the road to face a team that has beaten them twice this season by a combined five points. Both regular season contests against Boston came down to the final minute, and while the Divas have improved enough to challenge the Militia until the final whistle, they know that the final step – actually triumphing over Boston – is the most difficult one.

“Both of our games against Boston were really close and tough losses,” Coach Fischer confirmed. “They’ve beaten us several years in a row, and we’re still continuing our climb. But our players are excited to get one more shot to try to beat them, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The winner of the Divas-Militia contest advances to the Eastern Conference championship game. The Divas have never made it to the conference title game since joining the WFA in 2011, because they have bumped heads against the Militia before reaching the conference championship each time. Although it’s just a conference semifinal matchup, playoff games between the Militia and Divas have so much intensity and high-quality play that they take on the feel of championship-level contests.

Fischer feels that the Divas’ tough schedule has prepared them for this moment. “Even our regular season meetings with Boston feel like playoff games,” Fischer said. “Whenever we play Boston, there’s a lot riding on the outcome because of the quality of the two teams and the nature of our rivalry.”

Most Playoff Meetings in Women’s Football – All-Time
6 – D.C. DIVAS & BOSTON MILITIA (2009-2014)
5 – Sacramento Sirens & Seattle Majestics (2003-2005, 2007, 2012)
3 – D.C. DIVAS & COLUMBUS COMETS (2006, 2013, 2014)
3 – Boston Militia & Chicago Force (2011-2013)
3 – Chicago Force & Dallas Diamonds (2008, 2010, 2013)
3 – Columbus Comets & West Michigan Mayhem (2005, 2006, 2009)
3 – New York Sharks & Atlanta Xplosion (2005-2007)
3 – Oklahoma City Lightning & Pensacola Power (2003-2005)
3 – Detroit Demolition & Pensacola Power (2002, 2003, 2005)

Around the WFA – The winner of the Divas-Militia game will advance to the National Conference championship game against the winner of the Chicago Force and Miami Fury. The reigning WFA champion Chicago Force (7-1) began their title defense with a dominating 66-0 victory over the West Michigan Mayhem. The Force are making their 11th playoff appearance, tied with the Divas for the most playoff appearances in women’s football history…The Miami Fury (7-2), on the other hand, won the southeast region championship by going on the road and upsetting the reigning southeast champion Atlanta Phoenix, 9-7. It was the first non-forfeit playoff victory in the Fury’s franchise history, which dates back to 2000.

In the Midwest Region championship, the Austin Outlaws will travel to take on the Kansas City Titans. The Austin Outlaws (8-1) narrowly held off the Minnesota Machine in the previous round, 14-3. The Outlaws are one win away from qualifying for their first conference championship game since 2002, when they advanced to their only national championship game in team history…Standing in their way are the Kansas City Titans (9-0), who easily handled the WFA’s other Texas team, the Houston Power, in the previous round. It was the first official playoff victory for the Titans, a team that was formed in 2013 from a merger of the Kansas City Spartans and Kansas City Tribe. The Titans hope to be the first Kansas City team to advance to a conference championship game since the Tribe captured the national title in 2009.

In the Pacific region, the Seattle Majestics (8-1) pulled off the upset of the conference quarterfinal round, traveling to Fresno and toppling the Central Cal War Angels, 13-12. Seattle is attempting to move on to the conference championship game for the first time since 2008, when they fell to the eventual national champion Dallas Diamonds…Seattle will host the San Diego Surge (9-0), who advanced to the conference semifinals by downing a stubborn Las Vegas Showgirlz squad, 48-16. The Surge, who have a 41-3 record since 2011, are looking to get back to the national title game for the third time in four years and add another trophy to the national championship they won in 2012.

Washington, DC – The D.C. Divas will celebrate their record-setting 11th playoff appearance in franchise history by bringing women’s football to Northern Virginia for the first time Saturday.

The D.C. Divas finished the 2014 regular season with a 4-3 record, but that mark is somewhat misleading, as the Divas are ranked #4 in all of women’s football. D.C.’s three losses this season include a defeat at the hands of the #2 Chicago Force and two extremely close losses to the #1-ranked Boston Militia.

The Divas ended the regular season with a heartbreaking 29-28 loss to the Boston Militia on June 7. The Divas fell behind, 21-0, before rallying in the second half, a rally that came up one point short of victory.

“It was a tough loss,” Divas head coach Alison Fischer admitted. “We dug ourselves a deep hole, and we really hurt ourselves with such a slow start in the first half. Getting off to slow starts seems to be an issue with us. Although we played much better on both sides of the ball in the second half, it just wasn’t enough in the end.”

While Fischer was frustrated with the team’s poor first half, she praised the players for never giving up. “To their credit, the players kept fighting, and we did come from behind and outscore them in the second half. We played much better and gave a great effort,” Fischer said. “It was good to see that the players never quit.”

The D.C. Divas now turn their attention to the playoffs. The Divas will be making their 11th postseason appearance, the most in the history of women’s football, when they take on the Columbus Comets (5-4) in a conference quarterfinal matchup Saturday.

If the Divas defeat the Comets, they will play the winner of a Boston Militia-Cleveland Fusion game in the next round. Coach Fischer knows that the Divas’ players will be challenged to put the recent loss to Boston – and the prospect of a possible rematch with them – out of their minds.

“We have to make sure we are prepared to play against Columbus,” Coach Fischer warned. “Because we did have a hard loss against Boston, we need to recover from that and get into playoff mode. We need to make sure we handle our business against Columbus, because they’re a tough, tough team, and there’s no room for error in the playoffs.”

The Columbus Comets are no strangers to playoff football themselves. They are making their ninth postseason appearance in franchise history in 2014, and like the Divas, the Comets have played in two national championship games. The Comets and Divas twice met in the playoffs before, including a victory for the Divas in the 2006 NWFA Northern Conference championship game by a 32-7 score. The Divas went on to capture the NWFA national championship that season.

Coach Fischer knows the Comets well, and she knows the challenge that they pose. “We’ve played Columbus several times the last couple years. They always play hard the whole game, and they have some real athletes. They’re just a very solid all-around team.”

The D.C. Divas represent the entire national capital region, known as the DMV – the District, Maryland, and Virginia. The Divas traditionally play home games at Prince George’s Sports Complex in Landover, Maryland. But the team maintains close ties to the District, practicing two to three times weekly at D.C. high schools and staging occasional contests there, most recently in 2013 when they played the New York Sharks at Coolidge High School.

However, Saturday’s playoff contest marks the first time in their 14-year history that the D.C. Divas will play a game in northern Virginia. The June 21 matchup against the Columbus Comets will be played at Falls Church High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 PM, and tickets are on sale for $15, with discounts for service members, seniors, and students.

Coach Alison Fischer is excited to showcase Divas football in northern Virginia and give the area a taste of women’s playoff football. “We have never played a game in Virginia, but there are a lot of fans from Virginia that travel to our games when we play in Landover,” Fischer remarked. “Hopefully this game will introduce us to some new fans over in Virginia, and we know that our loyal fans in D.C., Maryland, and Baltimore will still come out to see us in our first appearance in Virginia.”

Ten Divas Honored as WFA All-Americans

Washington, DC – Earlier this week, the Women’s Football Alliance announced their 2014 All-American selections, and ten members of the D.C. Divas were chosen as WFA All-Americans for their performances in the 2014 season. Seven Divas were recognized as first team All-Americans and three Divas made the second team. It is the first time the Divas have had ten All-Americans, including seven on the first team, since the 2007 season.

The seven D.C. Divas recognized as 2014 WFA first team All-Americans are:

Jennifer Gray (OL) – Gray, the Divas’ starting right tackle, is the Divas’ only offensive line representative on the 2014 All-American team. Gray is a third-year member of the Divas and is a powerful blocker on the line. This is the first All-American selection of her career.

Kenyetta Grigsby (RB) – The spectacular Grigsby earned her fifth straight first team All-American selection with the Divas in 2014. One of the most dependable running backs in the sport, Grigsby is averaging over 100 rushing yards a game and has scored a touchdown on the ground in all but one contest this season.

Eleni Kotsis (DB) – Last season, Kotsis became the first Divas defensive back to earn first team All-American honors since Vickie Lucas in 2007. Kotsis repeated the feat in 2014, receiving first team All-American honors for the second straight season. Kotsis led the Divas in tackles against Atlanta and recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff for a touchdown against Chicago.

Cherre Marshall (LB) – Marshall garnered the first All-American honors of her seven-year career with the Divas in 2014, and it is an honor well-deserved. Marshall led Divas in tackles in two games this season (Boston and Chicago) and has recorded a tackle for loss in every game in 2014.

D’Ajah Scott (DB/RB) – Scott is an electrifying two-way player and one of the few members of the Divas to play on offense, defense, and special teams. A shutdown defensive back and a running back on offense, Scott earned WFA Player of the Week honors by returning two kickoffs for touchdowns against Boston in Week 1. Her versatility was most clearly on display against Columbus, when she placed third on the team with four tackles defensively (including a tackle for loss with an interception), while gaining 53 rushing yards and a touchdown on offense.

Ashley Whisonant (WR) – Whisonant, a dynamic wide receiver, has expanded her offensive game this season by taking occasional snaps under center as the quarterback of the Divas’ Wildcat offensive package. Whisonant has scored touchdowns three ways this season – rushing, receiving, and by kickoff return. This is her third straight first team All-American selection.

Kentrina Wilson (WR) – Wilson has taken the WFA by storm in her first season in a Divas uniform, making several spectacular catches. Despite playing in only five contests, Wilson has nine receiving touchdowns so far this season, a mark which currently leads the WFA. She received WFA Player of the Week honors in Week 4 after her performance against Columbus (seven receptions for 169 yards and three touchdowns).

The Divas also had three players recognized as second team All-Americans in 2014:

Desiree Abrams (DL) – Abrams made history just by playing her second season with the Divas. After first suiting up for the team in 2007, Abrams returned to the Divas in 2014 following a seven-year absence; her seven years away was the longest absence by any Divas player before returning to active membership. Yet Abrams has shown a knack for making big plays this season on defense, recording five tackles for loss in 2014 and recovering a fumble against Boston.

Trigger McNair (LB) – The timeless McNair earned second team All-American honors in her 16th season playing women’s football, and she is still one of the most feared defenders in the game. McNair recorded nine tackles against Columbus, the most by any Diva in a single game this season, and she terrorized Atlanta with six tackles (including four tackles for loss and a sack) to go along with a safety.

Jimmien Strong (DL) – Strong received her first All-American recognition since joining the Divas six years ago. Strong led the Divas in tackles for loss in 2013 with 5.5, and despite playing in only five games this season, she has improved on that statistic by recording 6.5 tackles for loss so far in 2014.

Washington, DC – In a game with major playoff implications on the line, the D.C. Divas host their archrivals, the undefeated Boston Militia, Saturday. The contest pits two of the very best teams in the sport against one another and renews a rivalry that ranks as one of the best in all of women’s football.

The D.C. Divas (4-2) will come into the game riding a four-game winning streak after two losses to start the 2014 season. The Divas most recently took the field against the Atlanta Phoenix and captured a 44-0 victory in the first ever meeting between the two teams.

“It was really good to play them,” Divas head coach Alison Fischer remarked. “It’s not a team that we had played before. It was good to see a different offense and defense and to see a team that plays at a very fast speed. I thought our team responded well to the challenge.”

In particular, the defense pitched its third consecutive shutout victory and has played 13 consecutive quarters without surrendering a point. The Divas haven’t allowed an opponent to score since the Chicago Force notched a touchdown in the third quarter when the two teams met on April 19.

“The defense is coming around and getting better each and every week,” Fischer said. “They continue to improve and gel and get more confidence in the scheme. They’ve been playing with more confidence as the season has gone on. That’s what’s really important for us – that we get better every single week. I think we did against Atlanta, so I was pleased with that.”

Offensively, the Divas were sparked by the return of quarterback Allyson Hamlin, who had missed the previous three games with an injury. Hamlin threw three touchdowns in half of one quarter to ignite the Divas’ passing attack.

“It was good to get her in the Atlanta game. We didn’t want to push her too much because she’s just getting back, but she came in and set the tone. Ally really got things going for our offense. It was good to see her get back in the saddle, so to speak,” Coach Fischer observed.

The Divas close up the 2014 regular season with their biggest test of the year – a visit from the undefeated Boston Militia (6-0). The Militia come into the game sporting a #1 ranking in the WFA, while the Divas are ranked fourth in the league. The Divas lost to Boston in the teams’ season opener, 36-32, and every time these two teams collide, it showcases women’s football at its highest level.

“I expect another great game,” Fischer remarked. “It’s one of the best rivalries – if not the best – in women’s football. They’re a great team; we’re a great team. I expect another hard-fought, good, solid football game from both sides.”

The Boston Militia have a record of 49-1 over their last fifty regular season contests. Their only regular season defeat over the past six years was a 35-20 setback to the Divas on April 2, 2011.

Yet the Divas fell to the Militia by just four points earlier this season, which gives Saturday’s contest enormous importance in the playoff race. If the Divas can hand Boston a rare defeat – and beat the Militia by five points or more in the process – the Divas would secure home field against Boston should the two teams meet in the WFA playoffs. Otherwise, the Militia will have effectively clinched home field advantage all the way through the National Conference playoffs.

To secure a home field advantage against Boston in the WFA playoffs, the Divas will need to pull the upset in their final regular season game of the year. That means relying on the home crowd Saturday as well.

“It’s good that we have this game at home,” Coach Fischer declared. “We love to play in front of our home crowd; they’re a tremendous help to us. This game does have some big playoff implications, but we’re going to concentrate solely on this game and try to play our best football. We’ll wait and see what happens after that.”

Get your tickets today for the D.C. Divas’ final regular season home game of the 2014 season on Saturday, June 7, against the undefeated Boston Militia. Kickoff for Saturday’s game is at 6 PM at Prince George’s Sports Complex in Landover.

Around the WFA

The D.C. Divas-Boston Militia game is one of several contests being held Saturday that could have an impact on the WFA playoffs. Eight teams – the Chicago Force, Boston Militia, D.C. Divas, Toledo Reign, Atlanta Phoenix, San Diego Surge, Central Cal War Angels, and Seattle Majestics – have clinched division championships and automatic playoff berths. The other four division championships will be decided in games Saturday.

The only division championship still up for grabs in the National Conference is in the South Atlantic, where the Tampa Bay Inferno (7-0) will try to close out an undefeated regular season by holding off the Miami Fury (5-2). The Fury can squash those dreams and capture the South Atlantic Division championship by erasing a 14-13 defeat they suffered against Tampa Bay two weeks ago.

In the Midwest region, none of the three divisions have been conclusively decided. Like Tampa Bay, the Kansas City Titans (7-0) are chasing an undefeated regular season record. To do it, they will need to hold off the Nebraska Stampede (6-1) Saturday. The Stampede can claim a Midwest Division championship by winning by 20 or more points to overcome their only loss, a 33-14 setback to the Titans on May 10.

The Austin Outlaws (6-1) are in the driver’s seat in the Southwest Division, thanks to a 17-8 victory over the Houston Power (5-2) in the first game of the season. But Houston can snatch the division title away with a victory of at least ten points when the Power travel to Austin Saturday.

Finally, the Tulsa Threat (3-4) hold an edge over the Acadiana Zydeco (2-5) on the basis of a 30-8 victory earlier this season. The Zydeco will need at least a 22-point win Saturday when they host the Threat to capture the Gulf Coast Division crown.

In addition to their six division champions, both conferences will have six wild card teams that qualify for the WFA playoffs. Several teams have effectively clinched a wild card playoff berth, while the final spots will be determined by the outcomes of this weekend’s contests.

In the National Conference, the Cleveland Fusion (5-2), Indy Crash (4-3), and Columbus Comets (4-3) have all secured their places in the WFA playoffs. The runner-up in the South Atlantic Division, either the Tampa Bay Inferno or the Miami Fury, will also qualify as a wild card team. The final two National Conference playoff spots are currently held by the Detroit Dark Angels and West Michigan Mayhem, but the Jacksonville Dixie Blues and Derby City Dynamite are still in contention as well.

Out west, the Las Vegas Showgirlz (5-2) and Portland Shockwave (5-2) have secured two of the American Conference’s six wild card entries. The two teams that fall short in the Kansas City Titans-Nebraska Stampede and the Austin Outlaws-Houston Power matchups Saturday will still claim wild card spots as well. The final two playoff spots in the American Conference are currently held by the Everett Reign and Minnesota Machine, but the Portland Fighting Fillies, Utah Blitz, and Tulsa-Acadiana loser this weekend could all find their way into the playoffs as well, depending on the outcomes of contests Saturday.

Memories of Coach Cooper

Ezra Cooper, one of the greatest coaches in women’s football history who helped build the D.C. Divas into a national powerhouse, passed away this past offseason at the age of 39. Coach Cooper left a profound legacy on the game of women’s football. With his passing, the sport lost one of its greatest coaches, a mentor and a friend.

“Coach Coop” made an impact on everyone he met. Some of the current members of the D.C. Divas football team spoke recently about what they’ll remember most about Coach Ezra Cooper.

Allyson Hamlin (quarterback):

“Coach Cooper had an incredible ability to make every single person on the team feel special. He had a way of communicating with us, and as a team, we all bought in and believed what he told us. Coop was so gentle but so fierce at the same time. And he was such a humble coach. For him, it was never about egos. It was always about us and about the sport.

I remember being shocked when I found out that he was only a couple years older than me. I found this out probably six or seven years into my playing career, and I was blown away because he was just so wise beyond his years. All those years I played for him, I would have run through a wall for him. He was that kind of coach, the kind of coach that you’d do anything for.

Honestly, he was just a wonderful man, not only a great coach but a wonderful person to be around. I really credit this entire organization to him, because I truly believe we would not be here without him. Coach Cooper kept us together and kept us believing. He gave us all a gift that affected so many of our lives and changed our lives forever. He was a very, very, very special guy.”

Trigger McNair (linebacker):

“I get emotional even talking about Coach Cooper. He was just a genuinely nice guy, the kind of guy who treated us like his kids. He was a great motivator. He knew how to get his message across and get the best out of each player. When I was playing, I truly would have run through a wall for him. He was that type of coach.”

Donna Wilkinson (linebacker):

“One of the first things I remember about Coach Cooper – especially after a hard practice – was his conditioning. He liked doing those long runs, almost punishing you and tiring you out. He brought out the pads in practice, and we hit a lot. He always made sure that we were very physical; he loved the physical aspect of the game. He was really a grind-it-out, ‘you’ve gotta hit a lot’ type of coach.

Of course, everyone remembers that he was such a great leader and motivator. But for me, I’ll always remember his toughness and how much he pushed us to be physical and gritty and get down in those trenches. When I suit up for practice, that’s what reminds me of him. As I think about him, I believe that the best way we can honor him is by being very physical and tough whenever we play.”

Becky Worsham (offensive line):

“Coop always stressed selflessness on the field. He always said that as an offensive lineman, you have to devote your body to the play, and every play has to be that way. I felt like he understood us in particular, because he was a lineman when he played. I really bought into everything he told us, because he played on the line so he knew what we were facing.

He was just such a positive person. We received encouragement every practice. Even when we’d make a mistake, he would say, ‘It’s okay…we’re gonna get better.’ It was awesome having that feeling of comfort. He had a calmness about him that made you feel like everything was going to be all right.”

Rachel Huhn (offensive line):

“Coach Cooper had this amazing ability to relate to each one of us individually. He would know what everybody’s mood was at practice. He would yell at the people who had the personality that could handle it, but for others, he would come over and put his hand on your shoulder and calmly say, ‘Hey lady, this is what you need to do to get better.’ He knew what each of us needed to hear.

What I’ll remember about Coop is that he knew that he needed to connect with each person individually before the team happens. That was what kept me coming back to football when I started out playing for him, because he always made me feel like I was part of the group.”

Rich Daniel (general manager):

“The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Ezra Cooper is that he was the father of D.C. Divas football. He was the first man to believe in what the women were doing. He was the first man to commit the untold hours and emotion and finances to this group. And then to do it for as long as he did and to have the success he did, in my mind, puts him among the greatest coaches this region has had in any sport.

Coach Cooper had a lot of daughters, and he had a lot of extended family that loved ‘Papa Bear.’ That’s how I view him – as one of the fathers of women’s football, this loving, Papa Bear figure. I have a lot of images in my mind of Ezra hugging players and showing that kind of thoughtful support, not just in what he said but in the way he would touch someone’s helmet, pick them up, or give them a hug.

He was a warm guy who knew how to listen. He’d listen to whatever issues they had going on, not just with playing their position on the field, but more importantly, he’d listen to what they had going on in their lives.

One of the great things about the Divas organization is that we’re a family that truly supports each other, and a lot of that has to do with the way Coach Cooper treated everyone. The family atmosphere we have around this organization has been carried on because of the example he set and the way he cared for and looked after everybody.”

Coach Ezra Cooper Honored as D.C. Divas Host Atlanta

Washington, DC – Alumni of the D.C. Divas football team will gather in Landover Saturday to honor the Divas’ legendary former coach, Ezra Cooper, while the current Divas squad will have its hands full as they host the powerful Atlanta Phoenix.

The D.C. Divas evened their 2014 record at 2-2 with a victory on May 3 over the Baltimore Burn, 43-0. Divas head coach Alison Fischer was pleased with how her team performed. “I thought we played solid all-around football,” Coach Fischer remarked. “I challenged the team to play D.C. Divas football, and I think we did that.”

The Divas’ defense was dominant once again, helping lead the team to its second shutout victory in a row. The Divas held the Burn without a single non-penalty first down for the entire game, and the Divas’ opponents have now failed to score for over nine quarters of game action.

“The defense is continuing to gel,” Fischer said. “They get better every week. The better they know our defensive scheme and the more comfortable they become, the better they play.”

Now riding a two-game winning streak, the Divas will face a strong challenge on Saturday from the visiting Atlanta Phoenix. Atlanta is a regional powerhouse in women’s football, advancing to the WFA conference semifinals last season as the champions of the southeast region. In their three seasons of existence, the Phoenix have compiled a 19-2 record in the regular season, with their two losses coming by a combined eight points.

This will be the Divas’ first ever meeting with the Atlanta Phoenix, and Fischer is impressed by their organization. “They definitely have some good athletes,” she acknowledged. “They have excellent speed, which will be a real challenge for us. We’re looking forward to the game and really looking forward to seeing how we handle their speed on both sides of the ball.”

The game against the Atlanta Phoenix has been designated as Homecoming for all Divas alumni. The Divas organization will welcome back former players and coaches as the team honors the memory of Ezra Cooper. Cooper, who passed away this offseason at age 39, served as the head coach of the D.C. Divas from 2001-2008 and led the team to five division titles and the 2006 NWFA national championship.

Cooper had a profound influence on many members of the Divas organization, including Fischer, who played as a defensive back under him for each of his eight seasons from 2001-2008. “Coach Cooper made a connection and had a special bond with every player,” Fischer recalled. “He connected with each of us on an individual level, which made all of us want to run through a wall for him. I learned a great deal from him as a player, and even when I was hired as the head coach of the Divas, I still talked with him quite a bit, met with him, picked his brain, and continued to learn from him. He was a very special coach.”

Coach Fischer knows that the Homecoming festivities and the recognition of Cooper will make for a very emotional atmosphere. “I know there will be a lot of alumni there for this game,” Fischer said. “Hopefully there will be a big crowd, and we’ll try to give them a good game.”

Get your tickets today for the D.C. Divas’ Homecoming game on Saturday, May 17, against the regional powerhouse Atlanta Phoenix. Kickoff for Saturday’s game is at 6 PM at Prince George’s Sports Complex in Landover.

Around the WFA – It’s a huge weekend in the Women’s Football Alliance, with two of the most anticipated games of the season taking place Saturday. The Chicago Force (5-0) and the Boston Militia (5-0) will meet on a neutral field in Pittsburgh for the first regular season meeting ever between these two elite franchises. Boston and Chicago have squared off in each of the last two National Conference championship games and came into the 2014 season ranked #1 and #2 in the league…The San Diego Surge (6-0) host the Central Cal War Angels (4-0) in the first leg of a home-and-home series. The War Angels have won four contests by an average margin of victory of 35.5 points per game, while San Diego has downed their opponents by a breathtaking average of 66.8 points per contest…The only other two undefeated teams in the WFA are the Tampa Bay Inferno (5-0) and the Kansas City Titans (5-0). Since a 32-25 victory over the Atlanta Phoenix in their season opener, Tampa Bay has won their last four games by an average of 60.8 points per game. The Titans, on the other hand, rolled in their first four games before claiming a hard-fought 33-14 victory last weekend over the Nebraska Stampede. The Inferno host the Orlando Anarchy Saturday, while Kansas City has a bye week…The storybook season of the Utah Blitz (3-2) added another chapter last Saturday, when Utah captured a 28-7 victory over the Tacoma Trauma. The Blitz are one of four teams with a winning record in the highly-competitive Northwest Division, and they are making a potential run at their first playoff berth in franchise history.

Divas to Renew Historic Rivalry in Special Interleague Game

Washington, DC – The D.C. Divas notched their first victory of the 2014 season last weekend by defeating the Columbus Comets. Saturday they will attempt to turn that victory into a winning streak, stepping out of their league for the first time in franchise history in a special contest against their historical rivals, the Baltimore Burn.

Nikki Williams, a legendary Divas wide receiver for nine seasons from 2002-2009 and 2011, put aside her role as Divas wide receivers coach to step under center as the team’s quarterback. Williams threw four touchdown passes in the Divas’ 39-0 triumph over Columbus, despite having only a week to prepare for the contest against the Comets.

“I thought Nikki did a great job, especially coming in so late and not having a lot of practice,” said Divas head coach Alison Fischer. “She remained pretty cool and calm in the pocket, and she did a good job. She did what we asked of her and connected with [Kentrina Wilson] for three touchdowns.”

Wilson and fellow receiver Ashley Whisonant combined for four touchdowns Saturday, making a name for themselves as one of the most fearsome one-two combinations at wide receiver in the league. “I don’t know that you can cover them both man-to-man,” Coach Fischer remarked of Whisonant and Wilson. “When you start having to put two defenders on one or both of them, it really opens up our running game.”

“They’re both great receivers, and they bring different strengths to the table,” she added. “We’re very fortunate to have them both on the field.”

Not to be overlooked in Saturday’s performance was the play of the Divas’ defense, which pitched the 48th shutout in franchise history. Fischer remarked, “The defense is coming along and really starting to gel. They’re starting to understand the schemes a little better. They bent a little against Columbus, but they never broke and were able to keep them out of the end zone. It was a very, very good performance for them.”

The Divas now hit the road for a game against the Baltimore Burn of the Women’s Spring Football League (WSFL). It’s the first interleague game in the 14-year history of the D.C. Divas, and it comes against a historical rival. The Divas and Burn have played 12 times in their histories, but this is the first meeting between the two squads since 2006. Coach Fischer, who played defensive back for the Divas from 2001-2009 and 2011, remembers the Burn well.

“They were our bitter rivals back in the day. We played them several times back in my playing days,” Coach Fischer said. “It’s been a long time since we faced them, but a rival’s always a rival, so we’ll be expecting them to bring their best.”

The Burn are 2-1 on the 2014 season, but two of those victories were by forfeit, so the Divas’ coaching staff can’t rely on game film for scouting. Instead, the Divas will need to go into the game prepared for anything.

“I don’t really know what to expect from them. They’re in a different league, so I haven’t seen any film,” Coach Fischer noted. “We’re going to start out playing our game, offensively and defensively, and adjust as needed. We’ll need to watch really closely the first series or two and make some game-time adjustments quickly.”

Baltimore Burn series notes – This is the 13th meeting all-time between the Divas and the Burn, but the first since 2006. The Divas and Burn were both founded in 2001 as two of ten charter members of the NWFA. Of those ten, the Divas and Burn are the only two that have played continuously since then, and both are in their 14th season of play in 2014.

The Baltimore Burn were the Divas’ first true rivals. The Burn were supposed to be the Divas’ opposition in the first game in Divas history on April 21, 2001. But poor field conditions caused the game to be cancelled, and the Divas opened the following week against the Philadelphia Liberty Belles instead. The Divas defeated the Burn in their first meeting on May 26, 2001, by a 20-8 score; it was the second victory in the history of the D.C. Divas franchise.

In 2002, the Divas and Burn played four times in the regular season. It is the only time the Divas have played the same opponent four times in a single year. The Divas went 5-3 in 2002, but the Burn had the upper hand in their head-to-head series, handing the Divas all three of their losses that season. A chance at the Divas’ first playoff berth came down to their final game of the year, but the Divas fell short of the Burn in their season finale, 6-0, and Baltimore went to the playoffs instead.

The Divas and Burn split their home-and-home series in 2003, but the Burn’s victory in the Divas’ regular season finale, 22-14, kept the Divas from clinching a perfect 8-0 regular season. That game was the subject of a segment on the CBS Evening News in 2003. The following year, the Divas got revenge by securing an 8-0 record with a 52-16 win over the Burn in the final game of the 2004 regular season.

The Divas and Burn played twice in 2006, when the Divas went on to win the NWFA championship. After that season, the Divas left the NWFA for the IWFL in the search for stronger competition, and the Burn stayed behind. Baltimore played two more seasons in the NWFA; when that league folded, the Burn joined the WFA for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

The D.C. Divas joined several of the premier teams in women’s football in moving from the IWFL to the WFA after the 2010 season, making the WFA the top competitive league in women’s football. With the Divas joining the WFA, it looked as though the Divas and the Baltimore Burn might once again renew acquaintances. But that same off-season, the Burn left the WFA for the upstart WSFL, where they have remained for the last four years.

Saturday’s contest will be the first ever between two women’s football teams that each have 14 seasons of continuous play. The game will be held at Utz Towardowicz Field, 200 S. Linwood Avenue in Baltimore. Gates will open at 4:30 PM with kickoff at 5:30 PM. Come on out to see your Divas resurrect their 14-year-old rivalry with the Baltimore Burn!

Around the WFA – The defending champion Chicago Force (4-0) improved to 28-0 all-time in regular season play in the WFA with a 30-0 victory over the previously undefeated West Michigan Mayhem (2-1). Chicago travels to Indianapolis to play the Indy Crash (1-2) this weekend…The Cleveland Fusion (2-1) held off the Crash last weekend for their second victory of the year. They host the Boston Militia (3-0) on Saturday, the team that handed them their only loss so far this season…This week’s only battle of undefeated teams might surprise you. The Toledo Reign (3-0) will try to move to 4-0 for the first time in their 11-year history by traveling to Pittsburgh and downing the resurrected Pittsburgh Force (2-0)…The Nebraska Stampede (3-0) will also try this weekend to improve to 4-0 for the first time ever, but they too have a difficult challenge as they host the Tulsa Threat (2-1)…One of the Northwest’s premier rivalries resumes Saturday when the Portland Shockwave (2-1) visit the Seattle Majestics (3-0). The Majestics triumphed in the season-opening meeting between these two teams, 33-12, but the Shockwave are the only team to score on the Majestics so far this season.

Major Fundraising Weekend for the Divas on May 3-4, 2014

With the D.C. Divas having all but clinched a playoff spot with their victory over the Columbus Comets last Saturday, the team is starting their push for playoff fundraising by hosting two events this weekend.

The Divas go on the road on Saturday, May 3, to take on the Baltimore Burn. After the game, the team will be having a post-game party and fundraiser at Bank Shot Billiards in Laurel. Come out to Bank Shot Billiards on Saturday night and meet with your favorite Divas…hopefully after another Divas victory!

What: Baltimore Post-Game Party and Fundraiser
Date: Saturday, May 3, 2014
Time: Beginning after the Baltimore game (approx. 9 PM to 12:30 AM)
Where: Bank Shot Billiards
3249 Laurel Fort Meade Rd.
Laurel, MD 20724

On Sunday, May 4, the Divas will be holding a wine tasting fundraiser in College Park from 3 PM to 5 PM. For one $15 ticket, you can enjoy samples of 16-18 wines from around the world as well as light refreshments. All guests will also automatically be eligible to win door prizes and can receive discounts on wine purchases!

What: D.C. Divas Wine Tasting Fundraiser
Date: Sunday, May 4, 2014
Time: 3 PM to 5 PM
Where: American Legion Hall
9218 Baltimore Avenue (Route 1)
College Park, MD 20740

Furthermore, it’s not too late to become a 2014 gameday sponsor of the D.C. Divas. Sponsorships include public address announcements and game tickets to all remaining Divas home games, including any and all home playoff games. Rates for sponsorships have been reduced for the remainder of the season, so help us as we make our push toward the playoffs! For more information, contact General Manager Rich Daniel.

D.C. Divas Tackle Columbus Comets in Critical Division Clash

Washington, DC – The first goal for the D.C. Divas every season is to win their division championship and qualify for the playoffs, and 2014 is no different. Their longtime division rivals, the Columbus Comets, come to DC Saturday for a critical WFA matchup.

Even though the Divas lost to the reigning WFA champion Chicago Force last week, 42-27, Divas head coach Alison Fischer was encouraged by how her team played in the absence of starting quarterback Allyson Hamlin. The Divas scrambled to install a Wildcat offense during the bye week, and it yielded 27 points – the most points the Chicago Force have ever surrendered in a regular season WFA game.

“We knew with the athletes we have that the Wildcat package would probably do pretty well,” Coach Fischer said. “The lack of practice time was the biggest challenge, because we didn’t have a whole lot of time to put the new offense in. We had to make some personnel changes, and it’s tough to move folks around to new positions in that short of a time. But the players responded and I liked what I saw, for the most part. Considering what we had to deal with, I think we played pretty well on offense. I thought the Wildcat was effective, and it’s something you’ll probably see more of from us.”

The Divas defense faced a prolific offense and gave a fine account of themselves for the second straight game. In particular, the halftime defensive adjustments have been outstanding, as D.C. has yielded just two second-half touchdowns combined in their last two contests.

“The defense is coming along,” Fischer remarked. “They are playing better in the second half, and one of our coaching challenges is to get them going in the first half. But overall, I love our effort, especially in the second half.”

So far this season, the Divas have solidified their place as one of the top teams in women’s football, even though they are now 0-2 after dropping consecutive close games to the teams ranked #1 and #2 in the sport. The Divas’ record brings a particular urgency to this Saturday’s game with their division rivals, the Columbus Comets. A loss to Columbus would virtually eliminate the Divas from contention for the division title, while a victory this weekend would all but assure the Divas of a spot in the WFA playoffs.

Columbus (1-1) will come into the game with momentum from a 42-0 victory over the Derby City Dynamite. Coach Fischer understands the importance of Saturday’s contest. “Columbus is a division rival, and it’s pretty much a must-win game for us if we want to win the division. That’s how we’re treating it.”

Saturday’s game promises to be a tough, well-played contest, and the Divas and Comets are longtime rivals that know each other well. “Columbus always brings it. They’re always physical and play for the whole game,” Fischer praised. “The Comets have always had a strong running game, and defensively, they have some very good athletes that get to the ball.”

Get your tickets today for this important matchup on Saturday, April 26, against the division rival Columbus Comets. Kickoff for Saturday’s game is at 6 PM at Prince George’s Sports Complex in Landover.

Around the WFA – The Chicago Force were awarded an extra point for their return of a blocked PAT attempt against the Divas, giving them a corrected final score of 42-27 in their win over D.C. last weekend. Chicago is 3-0 on the year and hosts the 2-0 West Michigan Mayhem Saturday…The Boston Militia remained undefeated with a 47-7 victory over the Cleveland Fusion last week, handing Cleveland their first regular season loss since 2012…The Atlanta Phoenix held off the Miami Fury in a defensive slugfest, 12-8. Atlanta travels to Jacksonville this weekend to battle the always-sharp Dixie Blues…Two weeks ago, the Utah Blitz held a career win/loss record over five seasons of 3-27, including 15 losses in a row. But the Blitz registered their first win since 2011 with a victory over the Everett Reign on April 12, and they now boast a winning 2-1 record on the season with their triumph last weekend over the Nevada Storm…The Seattle Majestics, Central Cal War Angels, and San Diego Surge are all 3-0 and dominating opponents on the West Coast. Seven of their nine combined victories have been by 40 points or more.

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