Taking a shot at the pros

Local makes bid to play women's football

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— Before the summer started, Diane Dwire knew almost nothing about the sport of football.

But a wild idea, and a few months of practice, has changed all that for the 33-year-old athlete from Steamboat Springs. She is waiting for news this week to see if she will be one of the players named to Colorado's first women's professional football team the Valkyries. The team is scheduled to open the inaugural season Oct. 14 against the Minnesota Vixen in Minnesota.

"I'm in the top-three players at my position, so I think I will make the traveling team. But right now, I just don't know," Dwire said.

Dwire has moved from her home in Steamboat Springs to Denver to be closer to the team. She was lucky that her employer in Steamboat, Montgomery Watson, also has an office in Denver and is letting her work out of it.

"I moved down here late this summer," Dwire said by phone. "I talked to the coaches and they said my chances were pretty good, so I went ahead and made the commitment."

Dwire is hoping to be named to the Valkyries defensive backfield for the opener as a cornerback. But she said information about cuts has been limited by the coaching staff. Players expect to find out about the starting roster just in time to pack for the game in Minnesota.

Dwire said that playing women's professional football was not a dream or even an ambition before the start of the summer. While Dwire always has been drawn to competitive team sports, her experience, at least as an adult, has been limited mostly to hockey and softball. That was until someone in her office suggested going to one of the Valkyries tryouts.

"When I was growing up, I was always a tomboy," Dwire said. "I always wanted to play baseball, football and hockey with the boys out on the front lawn. But when I got to a certain age, my dad told me that I couldn't play anymore. I think he started to question the motives of some of the boys who wanted to play tackle football with a girl."

Despite her lack of experience on a football field, Dwire was able to impress the Valkyries' coaching staff and is hoping for a chance to play at the professional level. Dwire said the paycheck doesn't matter she is thrilled by a chance to call herself a pro.

"It wasn't my dream to play professional football," Dwire said. "But it was a dream to play sports at a professional level, and this is a great opportunity."

Dwire is a member of the Chix with Stix hockey team in the winter, has coached several local girls hockey teams here in town and plays softball in the summer at a recreational level.

So when the chance to try out for Colorado's first all-women's football team came around, Dwire decided to give it a try. After a day of running sprints and other drills at a tryout camp, she was asked to hang around. That was several months ago.

Whether she makes the team or not, Dwire expects the Valkyries' first season to be a challenge. With its first game still looming on the horizon, the Denver team was still waiting for the delivery of pads. The squad still hasn't had a full-contact practice.

"Everything is moving so fast around here right now. It's hard to say what is going to happen," Dwire said.

She did think the coaches would announce who was on the traveling team once they saw the team work out in pads.

Dwire said she feels comfortable with where she stands on the team and is expecting to be on hand when the Valkyries go head to head with the Vixens later this month.

To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@amigo.net

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