It’s been a long, patient wait for the St. Louis SLAM women’s football franchise.
After spending last season on the sidelines, the team is ready to tackle “unfinished business” this weekend.
This Saturday night, St. Louis launches its 2015 campaign at home against the Minnesota Machine at Oakville Senior High School (5557 Millburn Road, Oakville, MO). Kickoff is at 7 pm.
The SLAM, a member of the 41-team Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), won the WFA National Championship in 2009 and reached the playoffs four times out of the last six seasons.
That included a 7-4 record in 2013 and advancement to the third round of the playoffs. But in 2014, the SLAM did not compete on the gridiron, which left a void for both its players and for its fan base.
Now under new ownership, and after months of preparation, the team has its sights set of re-establishing themselves as a force in the WFA.
Specifically for the returning starters, Saturday night can’t come soon enough.
“I am super excited to step on the field in St Louis again!” said SLAM running back Taylor Hay. “I missed being able to share the experience with my SLAM family along with my family and friends who reside in St. Louis!”
A focal point of the offense, Hay had 152 carries for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013 and also paced the kicking game, converting 31 of 36 PATs along with two field goals.
She is one of numerous faces that will re-strap helmets this weekend. Jelani Kelly, who served as a multi-positional specialist in 2013, had 37 rushes for 336 yards with four touchdowns and also served as back-up quarterback.
The SLAM possesses a dual threat at receiver with Keyonna Smith (12 receptions, 337 yards, 6 TDs) and Kaylee Neutzling (12 receptions, 239 yards, 5 TDs).
Defensively, Alana Fields netted 66 tackles with six sacks while Robin Morrow added 52 tackles. Kendall Park, Brooklyn Dunihoo and Tiffany Pugh also posted double digits in tackles in 2013.
St. Louis competes this season in the WFA’s American Conference – Midwest Region within the three-team Great Plains Division alongside the Machine and the Kansas City Titans.
The SLAM’s missive this Saturday against its divisional rival, and for 2015 as a whole, is simple.
“Our goal is to take one game at a time, make the mistakes, recognize them and then correct them,” said Hay. “Everything else will follow. And of course, at the same time, enjoy ourselves!”
The SLAM’s opponent, Minnesota Machine, finished 3-8 last season. Two of its wins were via forfeit, but its lone victory on the field was significant. The Machine defeated Tulsa in the opening round of the 2014 WFA playoffs last June.
Quarterback Danielle Thompson (729 Yards, 4 TDs) and running back Lisa Bastein (407 yards, 4 TDs) paces the Minnesota offense.
In its three meetings with Minnesota in 2013, the SLAM netted the trifecta and cumulatively outscored the Machine, 151-0.
Saturday’s home opener is the first of four local games this season. Hay and her sistren would love to see a large home crowd for the SLAM’s return to the turf.
“The turnout for this game, and the rest of the home games for the season, is crucial to our team and our city,” the running back said. “The more people we get to games, the more fans we will gain. It’s all about building and maintaining the foundation for the St Louis SLAM and women’s football in general!”
Tickets for Saturday’s game are $12. Children 10 and under get in free with a paying adult.
For more information on the St. Louis SLAM, go to stlslam.com.