Friday, 22 May 2015

Valkyries in the news

Works by Mark Thibert Staffieri for Canada Football Chat from May 13-22.

Article on fifth-year defensive lineman/offensive lineman Jaime Lammerding's experiences playing football and wheelchair basketball.

May 16: Wordly Presence: Chan part of strong Valkyries class in attendance at Women's World Football Games
Second-year linebacker Ehjae Chan got a taste of women's football on an international level when she attended the Women's World Football Games in Tampa, Florida in February.

May 19: Family Affair: Mother & daughter tandem make Valkyries history suiting up alongside each other
Check out how Crystal Matheson, a rookie defensive back, feels about playing Valkyries with her daughter, second-year running back Samantha.

May 20: Cultivating Skills: WWFG Experience great education experience for rookie lineman Funk
Before she played her first official down as a Valkyrie, first-year offensive lineman Alyssa Funk tested herself against players from around the world at the Women's World Football Games in Tampa, Florida in February.

May 22: Extending the Dynasty: Boldt leads sensational new Valkyries era
Stacey Boldt spent her first two years with the Valkyries as a receiver while backing up quarterback Candace Bloomquist. Now in her third-year, Boldt has taken over the quarterback spot following the retirement of Bloomquist.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Valkyries in the news

Mathesons make football family affair in Mother of a win

By: Don Rice for The StarPhoenix, May 11, 2015

A dare from a daughter to her mother several months ago led to a one-of-a kind Mother’s Day experience for the pair. Second-year Saskatoon Valkyries running back Samantha Matheson and her mother, rookie linebacker Crystal Matheson, became the team’s first mother-daughter duo to suit up together during their home opener Sunday.

Saskatoon thoroughly dominated the Winnipeg Wolfpack with a 75-0 shutout at Saskatoon Minor Football Field.

“I was pretty surprised when she said she would actually play,” said Sam who challenged her mom to join her tackle football team in a phone conversation the two had over the winter while Sam was working in B.C. “I was not actually expecting that, but I’m super happy that she came out. She was nervous at first, but now she’s killing it. She was a little beast out there — I love it.”
Second-year running back Sam Matheson (left) and her
mother, first-year defensive back Kris Matheson (right).
Photo: Liam Richards, The StarPhoenix

Kris, a softball player for many years, had never played any form of football — tackle, touch or flag. She decided to attend a couple Valkyries practices and see how they went. She loved it so much, she kept on playing.

In their very first practice together, the two faced the dilemma of what to do when they had to tackle one another. The 20-year-old veteran daughter Sam got the better of her less experienced 39-year-old mother Kris.

“I thought I would be nice — because I pay the bills to fix her — so I backed off, and she sent me flying,” Kris said. “I was quite sore after that.”

Kris showed she learned from that experience registering two tackles and an assisted tackle in her first Western Women’s Canadian Football League game. Meanwhile Sam, who has a background in rugby, racked up three rushing touchdowns, of 30-, nine- and six-yards, and was second on the Valkyries with 100 yards rushing. She had two other touchdowns called back due to penalties.

“Sam is a special back. She has very quick feet and her ability to cut on a dime makes her incredibly hard to tackle,” said Valkyries head coach Jeff Yausie. “I think the neat thing to see when (Kris) was out there is she’s fearless. She got her nose in there right away and made some good hard tackles.”

The Matheson’s had their own cheering section in the stands with over 20 friends and family members including Sam’s sisters (Kendal, 17 and Makenna, 15) and brother (Ethan, 13) as well as proud father Adam Matheson. One family friend held up a sign periodically cheering Sam on one side and Kris on the other.

“I’ve got two more daughters,” said Adam. “I can’t wait to see if we can get all four of them playing together. They’re rugby players, both of them, so it would be a natural progression for those two.”

The Valkyries, who scored six touchdowns in the first quarter alone and led 53-0 at half, saw Julene Friesen also score three touchdowns (46- and 73-yard runs, 55-yard pass) as well as single rushing majors for Stacey Boldt (17 yards) and Carly Dyck (25 yards). Marci Kiselyk scored on a 30-yard pass and Dyck hauled in a 40-yard touchdown pass.

The Valkyries next travel to Regina to face the Riot on Sunday night at 7 p.m. at Mosaic Stadium.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Valkyries in the news

Candace Bloomquist's sporting legacy continues to grow in Saskatoon
By: Mark Thibert Staffieri for Women Talk Sports, May 4, 2015

In the football mad region of Saskatchewan, a quickly growing segment of the sport revolves around women’s football. Two of its most accomplished teams, the Saskatoon Valkyries and the Regina Riot are among the most successful teams in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League (WWCFL). Heading into the 2015 season, it marks the transition into a new era for not only the Valkyries but the league as well.

Of note, the 2014 WWCFL championship game would prove to be the final one in Bloomquist’s career. By game’s end, her performance only added to Valkyries lore. Against the Lethbridge Steel, she picked apart their defense with remarkable precision, completing 21 of 30 passes while accumulating 347 passing yards and two touchdown passes. For her sterling efforts, she was recognized as the game’s Most Valuable Player, a fitting tribute.

Having established herself as the most honored quarterback in the nascent history of the WWCFL (losing only one game in four seasons); Candace Bloomquist announced her retirement after leading the Valkyries to their fourth consecutive league title. For the Nebraska-born Bloomquist, who has now made her permanent home in Saskatoon, the opportunity to be part of football history signifies more than just personal accomplishments.
Bloomquist vs. Lethbridge Steel (Photo by Louis Christ)
As the first quarterback in Canadian female football history to win four championships in a row, Bloomquist is part of one of Canada’s great modern-day female sports dynasties. While she reflects on it proudly, she also looks towards the future, seeing what this historic feat means in the bigger picture for the game’s growth, 

“To me winning four championships in a row means I got to share some really wonderful times with my teammates, coaches, staff and volunteers with the Saskatoon Valkyries. I will cherish those memories for a very long time. Being the first woman in Canadian football history to achieve that goal means it is only just the beginning for the sport. To be part of something at the beginning is exhilarating.

There is a lot of energy and we continue to build on the momentum that keeps escalating each year. I look forward to seeing more women reach their goals, whether it be four championships in a row or whatever goal they set for themselves.”

Prior to gracing the gridiron, Bloomquist made her mark on the hardcourt. Competing with the Creighton University Blue Jays, her twin sisters, Christina and Carisa competed at Mount Marty College. Consistently showing progress in every season, her finest may have come during the 1999-2000 campaign. Playing in 26 games, she led the Blue Jays in field goal percentage while registering ten career-high performances. This was complemented by earning the Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award.

Upon graduation from Creighton with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, Bloomquist subsequently served in the United States Army. Her education would prove to serve her well in admirable service to her country, as her military service involved work as a Medical Laboratory Specialist. Lessons learned from such experiences with the Blue Jays and the US Army formed the foundation for greater glories to come.

“I think my experience playing basketball and serving in the US Army contributed to my preparation for football. What I learned from basketball was that “success is never final.” Basketball is a very long season with a short off-season. We played lots of games and winning one game early in the season meant nothing unless you could maintain your success and peak at the end of the season.
Football on the other hand is a very short season, with a very long off-season, but the same principle applies, one win does not make a championship. Every game, every quarter, every snap of the ball was a new opportunity to prove our success.
What I learned from the US Army that maybe helped prepare me for football might be best put, “Perhaps one day this too will be pleasant to remember.” Basic training was not easy physically, being deployed to Germany during an intense time in the build up to the Iraq war was not an easy time mentally.

Playing football is not an easy game and it is not easy on the body. Especially on a body that has already seen its fair share of intense sports and injuries, as mine had. There were days that were more painful than others and took more and less mental energy than other, but fortunately the moments I remember most are the times when we worked together as a team to have fun and achieve something special.”

Extending her education with a Masters Degree from Kansas State University, Bloomquist would also earn a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Of note, the Prairie Province would result in an athletic renaissance for the remarkable Bloomquist.

Not only would she provide the nascent WWCFL with an unprecedented dynasty, but she made an effort to give back to the community. Among her proud football legacy in Saskatchewan, she took the initiative of becoming a certified football coach. With the support of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport (CAAWS), she was as one of their recipients of its WISE fund in 2011.

The result was that Bloomquist would add coach to her sparkling sporting resume, participating in youth football. Looking to develop skills, confidence and self-esteem; it was a great opportunity for a new generation of aspiring footballers to benefit from Bloomquist’s strong leadership and mentoring. In addition, Bloomquist was also part of Football Saskatchewan’s first tackle football camp exclusively for females.

“Giving back to my local community is very important to me. There are so many people that have worked hard and volunteered their time so that I could participate in the activities that have meant so much to me. It is now my turn to pay it forward and return that energy back into the community. I hope to help work to make positive opportunities, like playing football or participating in other sports, accessible to everyone who wants to play regardless of gender, income, education, disability, etc.

The Saskatoon Valkyries organization is full of wonderful volunteers, coaches, staff and players who are passionate about football and giving back to the community. I am very happy to be part of the Valkyries organization, as well as the Saskatoon Sport Council and the SaskSport Inc. Parasport Committee.”

Since hanging up her helmet, she has been involved in a wide variety of activities, ranging from serving as an ambassador for the Lung Association of Saskatchewan and a Board member with the Saskatoon Sport Council. Also finding the time to sit on various boards and committees, it is testament to the qualities that makes Bloomquist an outstanding leader, qualities that still shine in her post-playing career.

With roots firmly entrenched in Saskatoon, is still very dedicated to the Valkyries and the betterment of the community. Part of the Valkyries front office, her positive influence remains a pillar for the future of the organization. As a side note, the upcoming football season allows Bloomquist to engage in a new and exciting challenge.

“Starting next week I will be a referee for our new high school girls flag football league (it is called Rush Football). I coached last year in the inaugural year and this year I will be supporting the league by reffing. We just held our skills jamboree this evening with over 150 high school age girls participating (and every single one of them came through our quarterback station to learn the fundamental skills of being a quarterback!).”

For sporting fans in Saskatchewan, the last four years of Candace Bloomquist’s remarkable run with the Valkyries is part of a sporting legacy that shall live on, positively influencing so many young women to pursue their dreams. With female football still in its early years, Bloomquist’s historical accomplishments only serve to add to its growing mythology, while contributing a new chapter in modern sporting Canadiana.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Valkyries 2015 Season

The 2015 WWCFL season is upon us and the Valkyries now have a schedule. Come join us at our new home venue, Saskatoon Minor Football Field (formerly Gordie Howe Bowl) for our season opener on Sunday, May 10 at 1 p.m. when we take on the Winnipeg Nomad Wolfpack, and follow that up with a night game against our provincial rivals the Regina Riot on Saturday, May 30 at 7 p.m.

We will make sure to update you on the specific times for all of our away games and playoff games once that has been sorted out. Stay tuned!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Valkyries Practices

Practices for the Valkyries 2015 WWCFL season are underway, but it's still not too late for you to join. For more information, please email