Playing the game of football professionally is something not many people get the opportunity to do. However, one player in particular that’s making a push for women’s football, is Mount Vernon local Callie Brownson.
In this case, professional women’s football is alive in the D.C. area, as the D.C. Divas women’s professional football team is headed back to the conference championship after defeating the Pittsburgh Passion 41-29 in Landover, Md. last Saturday.
Callie Brownson attended Mount Vernon High School, graduating in 2008, where she played softball for all four years and now gives her time there as a coach as well.
Callie Brownson is in her seventh season with the Divas as a defensive back. She also won a gold medal with team USA in the IFAF tournament in Finland in 2013.
She knew she wanted to play football at a young age.
“It’s different because there is no youth or developmental phase of women’s football, so it’s tough,” said Callie Brownson. “But just playing while I was growing up, I fell in love with it.”
She was able to play in the Fairfax County Youth Football League and her father, Bruce Brownson, mentioned at that age she was playing guard and defensive end.
Callie’s father no doubt is her biggest supporter on and off the field.
“My dad was a single dad and I watched him wake up every morning and go work hard for us,” said Callie Brownson. “He’s always been so supportive of everything I’ve ever wanted to do.”
Bruce Brownson, who has been coaching his whole life, has become not only his daughter’s biggest fan, but every member of the D.C. Divas biggest fan as well.
“I’m honestly like the team dad,” said Bruce Brownson. “I pour myself into this. I’ve been exposed to a lot of great people over these last years and to see these girls blend together and become sisters is really something special.”
According to Bruce Brownson, he’s only missed a total of two games over the seven seasons his daughter has been playing in D.C.
For those people that question the competitiveness of women’s football and women’s sports in general, both Brownsons assure it is every bit as competitive as any men’s sport.
“When I first started watching I never knew of the culture of women’s football,” said Bruce Brownson. “They all love the game. It’s an unbelievable group of women who play the game because they love the sport. That’s why I do what I can to help out.”
The women of the teams don’t get paid to make a living by playing football; they play because of their love for the sport. Mostly every player has a job outside of playing football.
“Women love to play and the passion we have is just as good as any other sport,” said Callie Brownson. “It’s rigorous and time consuming, but that all speaks volumes for the toughness of these women.”
She also can’t get enough of all the support she does get from her father.
“He’s fallen in love with the same thing I have,” said Callie Brownson.
As for the upcoming weeks for the D.C. Divas, they have a chance to go back to their second consecutive Super Bowl, a game in which they won last year by defeating Chicago. No women’s professional football team has ever repeated as a Super Bowl champion, so by claiming another title the Divas could be the first to go back to back.
The Divas’ general manager, Rich Daniel, who is in his 12th year as the general manager, seems to be optimistic about the next few weeks ahead.
“I think the mood around the team this year is confidence,” said Daniel. “I think we have a very nice mix of young girls and veterans. We’re more athletic than we were last year.”
The Divas appear to be in good shape with Brownson on the back end helping out the defense.
“We knew that going in we had a shot to repeat,” said Callie Brownson. “We’re motivated by the fact we have that opportunity to win again.”
The Divas (8-1) will host their archrivals, the Boston Renegades, at Oxon Hill High School on July 9 at 5 p.m. in the WFA's Eastern Conference championship game.
“My expectation is that we’ll finish strong,” said Daniel. “We’ve worked too hard and put in too much time to not finish strong.”