Visions of Rudy Ruetigger poured through our helmet protected heads as we took to the field with the Iowa Crush, Iowa’s Independent Women’s Football League. But before we scrimmage, Coach Michael Dale puts us through a warm-up.
“Here we go, side lunges,” he shouts.
Then come the drills.
“Time to have some fun and hit some people,” says Dale.
Every time the whistle blows, we rotate between ladders, sprints and high knee hurdles, to name a few of the drills laid out across the field. The women have to be in good condition. Unlike high school or college football, the IWFL plays 15 minute quarters, just like the NFL.
“When I first got into it, I had no idea what to expect,” says Dale.
By day, he’s a science teacher and football coach at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. Now, into his third season with the Crush, Dale has a new appreciation for the IWFL.
“The most surprising thing, other than that they hit as hard as they do, they hit harder than men, is that it’s so much easier,” says Dale.
He says the women don’t come to practice with bad habits, because for many of them, this is their first time playing in an organized league.
“You get a clean slate,” says Dale. “You can teach them the fundamentals, the right way.”
Coach Dale attempts to teach us the fundamentals too. The youngest member of the team comes barreling towards us, while we attempt to stay in-bounds and avoid being “crushed.”
During another drill, we train with the defensive line. We’re called “run stoppers” and we’re instructed to follow the guards.
“You have to be in pretty good shape to do this in the first place,” says Jennifer McIntire, the Crush’s size four, quarterback. By day she works at HyVee. She says the women come from all sorts of backgrounds.
There’s the 220 pound figure skater, the school teacher, one lady does hair, “You name it, it’s out here,” says McIntire.
Playing in the IWFL is a dream, come true for Jennifer, “I love it, I love it. It’s a huge adrenaline rush to make that touchdown.”
We get a sense of that rush, when we finally get to scrimmage. We execute some of the plays better than others and the women admittedly go easy on us. But after a few attempts, we finally score with the help of the defense.
Rudy Ruetigger we’re not, but at least we’ve experience the rush of working out with the Iowa Crush.