By David Pan
It was now or never for Joleen Sims.
The 38-year-old Edmonds woman was surfing the Internet when she saw a posting for the new Everett Reign women’s football team. Sims, who shoots for the Wesco athletics website, contacted the Reign and inquired if the team needed a photographer. She was hired.
But after spending some time with the players, Sims decided against becoming the team photographer. Instead, Sims will don shoulder pads, a helmet and a uniform on Saturday night as Everett hosts the Las Vegas Showgirls at 7 p.m. in a preseason Women’s Football Alliance game at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“I got talked into playing,” Sims said of her change of heart. “At this age, 38, I know I could shoot photos for a long time. I wouldn’t be able to play football for long. It was on my bucket list. I fell in love with it.”
Sims played many sports throughout high school including basketball, track and field and swimming but none have challenged her physically as much as football.
“It’s a lot more physical for sure,” said Sims, who will play on the offensive and defensive lines. “It’s a little harder on the old body.”
Teammate Tammy Johnson also was on the Internet when she also saw some information on the team.
“I’ve always wanted to play football,” Johnson said.
The 41-year-old Lynnwood woman talked to coach Billy Russo and liked what she heard.
“It was a good opportunity to be able to play,” Johnson said.
Like Sims, Johnson has played sports most of her life. In high school, she was on the basketball, softball and volleyball teams. And for the last six years, Johnson has been a professional boxer/mixed martial arts athlete.
“Playing football is another outlet for me,” Johnson. “I like to stay active all the time.”
Because of her boxing/mixed martial arts background, Johnson’s family and friends weren’t too surprised by her taking up football.
“My family is real supportive. They’re real excited,” said Johnson, a backup quarterback and linebacker. “My husband loves it. A lot of people are supporting me.”
Brynn Winsor of Lynnwood can thank her father, in part, for her becoming a football player. Winsor’s father is a sponsor for the team and encouraged his 23-year-old daughter to try out for the team.
“I used to play soccer,” Winsor said. “I have no problems with contact. In fact, I was overaggressive.”
Winsor said that football is quite different than any of the other sports she’s done in her life.
“You have to trust the person next to you,” she said. “The camaraderie is a lot different. It’s a different feeling out there. I like playing football.”
In practice, the players are going hard against each other, but there always is respect for each other, Winsor said.
“We’re just doing our jobs. It’s nothing personal. That’s just awesome,” said Winsor, an offensive lineman and linebacker. “We are intense and we all want to play this game.”
When people find out what Winsor is doing some ask if it’s real football.
She tells them, “Yes, it’s real hard-hitting.”
One of those people who was skeptical was Winsor’s grandmother, who was not thrilled to hear Winsor was going to be playing football.
“She protested and protested until she finally broke down and bought tickets,” Winsor said. “Everybody else has been awesome.”
The age range for the team is wide with a few 18-year-olds, players in their 20s and 30s and even a 55-year-old woman, who competes in Ironman competitions.
Sims expects many people are going to be surprised by what they see on Saturday night.
“I think we’re going to shock a lot of people,” Sims said. “We actually do hit and tackle hard. We’re just going to wake everybody up. We’re serious. We’re not a powder puff league.”