TBL Daily has been lucky enough to recently have a chat with Lauren Evans, one of the most talented and passionate female gridiron players in the country.
Lucky enough to enjoy the lifestyle of living up north on the sunny Gold Coast, Lauren spends much of her time away from the office playing for the Gold Coast Stingrays and Queensland State team. When she’s not at work or out on the field, another key aspect to Lauren’s life is performing the duties associated with being Vice President of the Stingrays.
She’s a busy lady and we appreciate her taking the time to chat with us and help promote the growing sport of women’s gridiron.
Lauren, thanks for taking the time to chat about women’s gridiron in Australia. How did you first come involved with the sport?
A fried of mine was playing for the Gold Coast Stingrays men’s team. I had seen a bit of the US LFL and looked into whether there was full kit women’s gridiron. Turns out there was a Gold Coast ladies team preparing for the inaugural women’s competition in Queensland. I went down to a training session, threw the ball around, and was then training as quarterback.
You currently play for the Gold Coast Stingrays, how long have you been with the team and what’s been your career highlight?
The Stingrays have been around since 1987. It wasn’t until 2013 that the club had a ladies team. Prior to that, we were called the Gold Coast Seawolves, so I have been playing since 2012.
There have been a few highlights. One would be playing in the first ever fully sanctioned, full kit women’s gridiron game in Australia. Another was winning the 2013 Female Gridiron League of Queensland Championship with the Stingrays.
You’ve also represented the Queensland state team in the national championship – tell us what that experience was like.
It was such an awesome experience. Playing alongside the best players in Queensland, and coming out undefeated. We also built some great friendships with players from other teams in our league, which will make for an interesting 2014 season, when we are back playing against them.
It was great to see the talent that is in this sport in Australia. It will be these ladies that will be the competition to make the 2017 Australian team.
What are your thoughts on the LFL? Are many players playing in both state gridiron leagues and the LFL?
The LFL is different to our game, where we play a 9-a-side variation of the NCAA rules. There have been a few players that have transitioned from our league to LFL. In Queensland it is hard to play both, as the LFL ladies and most of the full kit teams train on the same night, but I believe there are a couple of ladies playing both this season.
What are participation numbers like for women’s gridiron – are they increasing at a similar rate to that of the men?
The ladies league is growing pretty quickly. There were 3 teams in our first season, 4 in the second, and we are going into our third season with 7 teams. The men and colts (juniors) leagues are staying relatively stable, however players like Jesse Williams have inspired an increase in numbers in the male leagues.
Off the field, you’re a lawyer. How do you balance the competing needs of your career and your sport?
I’m an in-house lawyer. Luckily I don’t work the excessive hours of traditional lawyers. I’m pretty lucky in that I have some flexibility at work and they know how important my sport is to me. This season I’m Vice President of the Stingrays, playing for the ladies team, doing extra training where I can, and working full time. I don’t have much time for anything outside of that, but wouldn’t have it any other way.
The NFL is being shown on the 7 Network for the next five years, which is great news for Australian gridiron fans. Can you see this boosting participation rates for both males and females?
Yes, it is great news that the NFL will continue to be available on free to air tv, as well as other NFL shows, including my favourite Hard Knocks. I think Australian amateur leagues can benefit from this, where they adopt smart marketing strategies to best utilise the potential exposure, which can be gained from the interest in NFL. For the ladies league for example, the difficulty in getting the word out that we exist and then getting ladies to come down and give it a go.
Speaking of NFL, who do you follow and why? I’m a Ravens fan, which stems from my love of the Baltimore Orioles (MLB).
I’m a massive San Francisco 49ers fan. I didn’t know much at all about NFL before I started playing, but finding a team to support was a big thing. I watched a few games, and something about the Niners stood out. Alex Smith was QB at the time, and there was something about their offence that I liked. Now with Kaepernick in QB, his rushing game is pretty motivating for me as a quarterback.
Have you had the chance to attend any NFL games over in America? If so, which ones and when?
No, I haven’t. Our football season runs about the same time as the NFL regular season, so I haven’t been able to get over there during the season. I have been to a college game though. I did a football trip to Hawaii and got to see a University of Hawaii game, and got the opportunity to watch a UH closed training session, which was such a great thing to experience. I’m hoping to get to Super Bowl 50 at Santa Clara in 2016.
Lastly Lauren, if women reading this want to start a career in women’s gridiron, where should they go for more information?
It’s pretty easy to find information on female gridiron teams in Australia on the internet. In Queensland, www.gridironqld.asn.au has all the info on Queensland gridiron clubs.
Thanks again for taking the time to speak with the TBL Daily team and our fans. All the best to you, the Stingrays and the Queenslanders.
Thanks very much.
Image courtesy of MarksPhotos.com.au