Saturday, April 30, 2011

Women's Football Back at Cupples Field This Saturday

The Pittsburgh Passion are back in their old home, Cupples Field on the South Side. I, for one, couldn't be happier. I'm not much of a suburban girl and schlepping to five miles past where God kissed the hoot owls goodbye to the North Allegheny H.S. Field was not really my cup of tea, so the return to the South Side is an occasion for raucous rejoicing.

Currently, the team is 3-0, having opened the season with three successive road games, all victories. They christen their return to Cupples, appropriately enough, by hosting the Columbus Comets, a team they haven't played since beating them in the 2007 National Women's Football Association (NWFA) Championship game in Nashville.

That game was played at Whites Creek High School, just outside of Nashville and, despite its proximity to Nashville's downtown, the school's setting was more rural. In fact, I'm fairly certain that I made a right turn after the third cow pasture, but it could have been the right after the second cow pasture.

It was an old-timey setting, too. The field was nice, but the bleachers and booth and lights were old and worn. It all looked like something from another era, the kind of setting typical to a time when football players still wore leather helmets.

The Passion were up 26-0 at halftime when they jogged down to the locker room. On their way back up to start the second half, the lights went out. I mean, all the lights went out. We never did figure out how, but a circuit was overloaded, taking out all the field lights and sound. Everything was out. Except, ironically enough, the lights in the parking lot. Everybody started finding their way around by the light of their cellphones. The delay dragged on for an hour. Some people suggested they postpone and finish the game the next day, a Sunday. Somehow, T. Conn, the owner of the Passion, stuck to her guns and even though they didn't finish until well after 11:00 that night, finish they did.

Since then, there have been lots of changes. The Passion left the NWFA for the IWFL (Independent Women's Football League), while the Comets stayed with the NWFA. Eventually the NWFA sort of just faded away and the Passion and Comets are reunited under the umbrella of the Women's Football Alliance (WFA). Everybody up to speed?

In addition to the leagues shifts, there have been so many changes for the Passion. Conn has owned the team since 2005 but Franco Harris (yes, the Franco Harris), a long-time booster of the Passion, came on board as part of the ownership over this past winter. Pretty exciting stuff.

Many players from the 2007 championship team have retired, but many still remain, including three of the current team captains -- Sarah Young, Sharon Vasquez and Michelle Brevard -- as well as the defensive MVP from that game, Olivia Griswold.

I haven't seen the Passion play this year, so it'll be interesting for me. And I haven't seen the Comets since that summer night in 2007.

Tonight's game will air live on ESPN3. Viewers can tune into for details, but don't let that keep you away. Kickoff is at 7:00 at Cupples Field at 9th and Carson Streets in the South Side. Parking and other gameday information can be found here.

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