Women's football teams schedule tryouts
Updated:  05/14/2009 at 9:23 AM

Headline Women's football teams schedule tryouts
Saturday, September 13, 2008
For The Patriot-News

Natalie Owens has never played football. Toshia Shearer has played quarterback for one season. This weekend, both will try out for women's tackle football -- but for different teams.

In a twist on traditional football rivalries, two midstate women's teams -- the Central PA Vipers and a new offshoot, the Keystone Assault -- are holding tryouts this weekend.

For women who have always wanted to play football, it means a wealth of opportunities. Team organizers insist that it doesn't mean a diluted talent pool.

The Assault, which formed after disagreements over injuries and competitive balance, has commitments from "a majority" of former Vipers, said Heidi Johnson of Enhaut, public relations director.

However, Vipers co-owner Lindsay Snowden said she could see about half of last year's squad, which ended last season with 17 people, at Saturday's tryout. She'd like to have a 35- to 45-woman roster this year. The Assault's head coach said he hopes for at least 45.

"Competition is good," said Snowden, of Harrisburg. "It'll at least give women double the exposure. Now, people are more interested in our rivalry than they are in our team."

Both teams said they are reaching out to rookies -- no experience necessary.

"You don't have to know football,"Snowden said.

Vipers players also are expected to participate in community events, she said.

Assault coach Tim Smart of Mount Wolf has coached women's football, including the Vipers, for seven years. He has coached boys' teams, but coaching first-time players gives him "a blank page," he said.

"Others have been taught to do things a certain way," Smart said. "I get to teach them the way I want them to learn. They don't have to unlearn something or change a habit they picked up from somebody else."

The Vipers, which formed from the remnants of a team called the Angels, have played two seasons, which run in the spring. The Vipers and the Assault belong to competing leagues, but both play by NFL rules -- full-contact football by players wearing helmets and shoulder pads that might have something like a bra built in.

"They play extremely hard," Smart said. "They don't mess around. They get hurt. They get beat up. They don't think of it as a hobby. This is something they're passionate about."...