Pacing like a caged tiger waiting to be released, the St. Louis SLAM women’s professional tackle football franchise is salivating to launch their 2022 campaign with a weekend victory.
Four-time national champions within the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), the SLAM makes their return to the turf after a 30-month layoff in Saturday’s anticipated road match-up against the Columbus Chaos. Held at Whitehall, Ohio’s Yearling High School, the game has a 6 p.m. (Central) kick off.
Founded in 2003, the SLAM is one of the most decorated teams in the WFA, whose ongoing legacy includes their last game played in July 2019 where they claimed the League’s Tier II Championship with a flawless 11-0 record.
The WFA’s 2020 national campaign was cancelled due to the pandemic and while the governing body elected to forge ahead in 2021, the SLAM opted to wait until this season to field a team.
The ensuing patient sabbatical now finds the Gateway City’s gridiron gang champing at the bit for Saturday’s first snap.
“We are so excited to get back at it in St. Louis,” said SLAM running back Taylor Hay of the squad’s long-awaited reappearance.
Anticipation is also found in the SLAM’s bump up in status within the WFA. After showing dominance in WFA Tier II, St. Louis now competes in the 11-team WFA Pro class, where half of their six-game regular season finds them looking to claim traction in both the standings and subsequent rankings.
One game on the docket later this season is a first-time encounter at home in May with the Boston Renegades, the defending WFA Pro National Champion.
“Our schedule is packed with competition, and we look forward to it,” said Hay. “I think for us, we do best when we take one game at a time when we compete.”
The SLAM’s 26-player charter this year is slim compared to seasons’ past but there is a plethora of veteran talent that possesses multiple championship rings that returns to the fold.
On offense alongside Hay, multi-purpose weapon Danielle Price can instantaneously gain massive yards (and touchdowns) both on the ground and from the air. Returning quarterback Jaime Gaal has been perennially one of the WFA Tier II leaders in both touchdown passes and yards since helming that role. Teammate Mary Altepeter also provides a dual threat and will make that presence known when she rejoins the team on the field later this season.
Plenty of experience also returns to the offensive line, including WFA All-Team center Caitlin Erickson as well as mainstays Pamela Green and Cherie Miller.
Over the past five seasons, the SLAM’s defensive unit has been a trademark. During their 2019 championship run, the team only allowed 49 points altogether in 11 games. Keyonna Smith, Raven Williams, Chelsea Clay, Jamie Skinner and Brandi Troupe brings high-caliber play to the forefront.
According to Hay, the core personnel is imperative in helping the SLAM machine reach full potential.
“I think it is pivotal to the success of a championship team,” she said.
Per custom for an opener, Saturday’s game also features rookie additions that look to impress SLAM leadership early.
“We have a total of 14 new faces,” said Hay of the upcoming crop. “Eight of those are looking to start and make a huge impact. The vets are super anxious to see them against our first opponent this weekend!”
Columbus Chaos competes in their inaugural WFA season as a Tier II team and looks to claim the ultimate trifecta this weekend: a home, season and franchise opening triumph.
However, the SLAM aims to unlock their proverbial cage, play spoiler in the Buckeye State and etch the first notch of their self-promoted “Drive for 5,” which is code for a fifth WFA national championship.
The SLAM’s home opener takes place on Saturday, April 30 against the Derby City Dynamite at St. Mary’s High School. Season passes for the three-game local series are available at the team’s website.
Arch City Media will provide ongoing coverage of SLAM football this season.
By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is an announcer and digital content producer for St. Louis-based Arch Rival Roller Derby. Also a webcast announcer for post-season roller derby tournaments on wftda.tv. Yep, this Illinoisan primarily writes about derby, covering Arch Rival, the St. Chux Derby Chix and the STL GateKeepers men's league. He also writes about St. Louis SLAM Women's Football, St. Louis Lions women's soccer and other sports topics.