Category Archives: Article

Victory at Victory!

Staten Island, New York, February 27, 2010
It was another successful football event as the 4th Annual Football Clinic for Girls was held on Saturday, February 27th, 2010 at Victory Indoor Sports Arena on Staten Island. This free all-day clinic, hosted by the Fins Up! Foundation for Female Athletics and produced by the players and staff of the NY Sharks was joined by Adam Koets of the NY Giants who was on hand (with his Super Bowl ring) to help coach the girls.

Melissa Pickett, Sharks Assistant Director of Community Events & Appearances, worked alongside Sharks team owner Andra Douglas to organize the camp. Former player and coach, Beth Nugent was Head Coach of the event while Adam Koets, guard and center for the NY Giants, coached and mentored the participants.

Success? It was the largest group yet as NY Sharks players were instrumental in signing up nearly 175 participants from ages 12 to 18 (although some younger girls just came to watch and a few older ones with thoughts of trying out for the team). Former player Veta Williams brought two bus loads of girls from the school where she teaches on Long Island. Groups that attended included: the Girls Scouts; Girls, Inc; and The Young Women’s Leadership Foundation.

How did the day go? The group was split up into teams and taught different player positions as well as how to hold, catch, handoff and throw the football. Drills continued with hand and foot placement culminating in actual groups of 7 on 7 flag football games.

While football was the sport, the focus was to teach confidence, team spirit and most of all to have fun without any pressure to win. Along with teaching the basic skills of football came Life Skills where Adam and girlfriend Taya Wyss talked about goal setting and responsibilities.

Taya Wyss is part of a group called WAGs, Wives and Girlfriends (of NY Giants.) She met the Sharks when they were working at a Giants game and, after talking to some of the Shark players learned about their camp. “I love football and the thought of empowering young women”, Taya said. “ I felt compelled to assist in creating awareness of both the Girls Football Camp and women’s tackle football”.

Taya was able to come up with some funding, particularly the cost of the buses that took the girls to and from four locations in NYC. She eagerly attended the event and was able to speak not only with the girls but also their parents, who said that at first were not keen on their daughters playing a rough contact sport.

Last year’s success had Jenna and Paige Goldsack, who play lineman on a boys tackle football team at New Jersey’s Rutherford High School. I was not aware that there was yet another high school tackle football player, now 17-year-old Emma Lieberman, with a position of backup QB on the opposing Tenafly’s team. At that time, Emma played on the same “team” during the JPD Program. Emma returned this year.

What was her experience last year? “It was a lot of fun, last year especially being able to play with other girls for the first time,” said Emma, “and at Giants Stadium. I was also able to play positions other than quarterback”. Although she felt that she could teach, she wanted to do the program like everyone else, although I’m told that she did help out a bit.

“This year with the coaches being different, I learned techniques from another point of view. The JPD Program was also the first time I’ve been coached by women and found them to be just as good as the male coaches.”

Emma would love to see the camp continue saying, “It gives girls a chance to play without having to necessarily join a team and to see if they like it or not as football is such a complicated sport and very physical.”

Emma has been lucky in her participation of football having played since she was in elementary school. “As a male dominated sport the JPD Program shows that girls can play football as well. In so far as development during the camp, staying with a team for the day helps to build that team spirit and a more positive role for girls.”

The NY Sharks Annual Girls Football Camp is open to any girl between the ages of 12 and 17 regardless of their residence. All participants received a commemorative IWFL wristband, a NY Giants tee-shirt and free tickets to a New York Sharks game.

For more pictures, visit our gallery section.

A Huge Success at Giants Stadium

The 3rd Annual NFL-JPD Football Clinic for girls was held on Saturday and Sunday, February 7-8th, 2009. This free 2-day clinic hosted and run by players and coaches from the NY Sharks women’s professional football team took place at the World Champion New York Giants practice bubble, next to Giants stadium.

Open to girls ages 13-17, the football clinic brought about 150 participants from the Tri-State area and judging from the looks on their faces, was another success.

Leslie Dock, Sharks Director of Community Events & Appearances, volunteered as the Site Administrator and worked alongside Sharks team owner Andra Douglas, Sharks VP of Operations Dana Sparling and Sharks Head Coach Bob Breschard to produce the event. Leslie began organizing the event in September of 2008. The Sharks players were instrumental in recruiting the 150 plus participants. Former player Veta Williams even brought a bus load of girls from the school where she teaches on Long Island.

Leslie, along with players Jen Blum, Ann “Bird” Dailey, Courtney Ray, Corie Gaidusek, Tiffany Robinson, Brooke McKinney, Manoucha “Nikki” Joseph, Danielle Caddy, Blessing Withers, Chrissy Pagan, Amber Knighten, Lynn Lewis and Dana Sparling, made up the NY Sharks players coaching staff. In addition from the Sharks staff were Dave Maxwell, Pat Brown.

Along with teaching the basic skills of football came Life Skills where Leslie talked about goal setting and responsibilities. Next, the group was split up into teams and taught different player positions and how to hold, catch and throw the football. Drills continued with hand and foot placement.

What was the range of experience from these young girls? Leslie said that there were one or two girls on her team that not only never handled a football, but also never participated in a team sport, which certainly took a lot of courage. “The focus was to teach confidence, team spirit and most of all to have fun without any pressure to win”.

Joining the clinic for the third year was twins Jenna and Paige Goldsack who play lineman on a boys tackle football team at New Jersey’s Rutherford High School. Nick, their father sent the following to Sharks owner Andra Douglas. “Thank you and all the sharks for another great weekend of football. The Twins had a blast. If not for the Sharks encouragement I truly feel the twins wouldn’t be working out this hard. You guys (ahem ) ladies are great roll models for all young ladies to look up to”. When it came down to it, the girls loved being able to play with other girls that shared their passion.

Taya Wyss is part of a group called WAGs, Wives and Girlfriends (of NY Giants.) She met the Sharks when they were working at a Giants game and, after talking to some of the Shark payers she learned about their JPD program. Taya was looking for an organization that she felt compelled to support with both time and money. “I love football and the thought of empowering young women. I felt compelled to assist in creating awareness of both the JPD program and women’s tackle football”. With the assistance of the WAGs, she was able to come up with some funding, particularly the cost of the buses that took the girls to and from three locations in NYC.

Taya eagerly attended the event and was able to speak not only with the girls but also their parents, who said that at first were not keen on their daughters playing a rough contact sport. “Once they saw them play”, said Taya, “they accepted that they were not in that much danger and really enjoying themselves”.

Coach Gorden from Truman High School, in the Bronx, brought his flag team, which was formed after 8 years of girls asking to have their own football team. He did not coach at the JPD but simply watched. Asked if he learned anything from our player staff, he admitted that a lot was taken in, particularly the drills. Taya overheard Andra giving coaching tips upon his request. “I thought how cool it was”, said Taya, “that a professional woman football player was providing coaching to a male football coach as well as informing him of how well his team was performing”.

Taya then asked Coach Gorden if the ever taught a boys team and if so what the difference was. He said that with his experience coaching the boys he would tell them, “Go do this” and they would do it. However, girls will do it but ask why they are doing it. Both Taya and Leslie agreed that females behave this way so that they can internalize the information and not have to ask again.

Some feedback, so far? Gorden was so impressed with the outcome of the two-day event that the Lady Mustangs have been looking to get a spring game going with two other high schools in his area.

The annual NFL-JPD Program is open to any girl between the ages of 13 and 17 regardless of their residence.

By Merle Exit

Wichita Welcomes Women’s Football

Our publicist, Merle Exit, continues to put women’s tackle football on the treasure map, as the New York Sharks display was unveiled at the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita on Saturday, November 4, 2006 along with the official announcement that the museum would house the IWFL Football Hall of Fame.

Sharks players, Diana Gonzalez and Jen Blum flew down for the event as Jen’s father, Malcolm accompanied them in his usual supportive style. Members of the local media were on hand to interview the two wide receivers as well as getting some insight from Merle and remarks from a proud dad.

As the public and Museum of World Treasures board sat waiting the unveiling, Director of Sales Lon Smith approached the podium and spoke highly of the achievements of the New York team. He continued to address the importance of women’s football and being a part of a facility that already housed great sports memorabilia.

After Jen, Diana, Merle and Malcolm each voiced their enthusiasm, Lon presented a framed Certificate of Appreciation signed by Michael K. Noller, the museum’s President and CEO. In Merle’s remarks she pointed out the team’s winning streak, NFL JPD Program, then emphasized that no player can achieve greatness without a team as no team can exist without a league.

The exhibit was revealed with much applause. What originally began as a display featuring a framed collage of photos and a signed football, grew as owner Andra Douglas had submitted a photo taken at the Women’s Sports Foundation annual dinner as well as her jersey. Lon chose several action shots that were placed above and in the display case creating an extremely impressive presentation.

In addition a CD depicting highlights of the 2006 season was set up on a “loop” and shown on a monitor which will allow the public to experience the action of both the New York Sharks as well as other teams of the IWFL.

At the end of the ceremony, Jen and Diana sat for autographs while everyone enjoyed a slice of “Shark Cake”. The cake, brought out by Lon’s wife Sherri and daughter Kelsey, had both the Sharks’ insignia as well as an action photo.

Later that evening Jen, Diana, Malcolm and Merle were treated to a great dinner at the nearby Larkspur restaurant. Joining them was: Michael K. Noller; founders Jon and Lorna Kardatzke; and the Coleman company’s Director of Global Continuous Improvement, Steve Moore. The celebration party continued to a further celebration of Karaoke at the Best Western Motel.

What had Diana have to say about the whole experience? “We were treated and given the respect NFL players would have been given. Lon Smith, director of sales and whom we dealt with most of the time, was great! He is pro-feminist and share’s many of the ideals to excel women’s athletics. The presentation at the museum was great. Several channels were there and this is the type of publicity that our league needs. Lon seemed excited about the relationship with the IWFL as a whole but also is making big efforts to push women in football to the public. More importantly, I’ve realized how crucial it is for us as players to maintain an image and work hard to be role models for other young ladies. I hope we can get the recognition we deserve to inspire others and make this team and league big!”

The New York Sharks would like to thank: James Dockery for both his great photos and collage design; Merle Exit for both photo submissions and selections; and Rachid Bouchik of Omega Art & Framing at The Shops At Atlas Park for donating his framing.

Women Tackling a Passion

Edge Boston

Canton, Ohio is noted for their main attraction, the Pro Football Hall of Fame. My journey through areas of Ohio brought me into the famed Fame as I searched for an exhibit on women’s tackle football. There wasn’t any. The reason, I was told, was that there are no women’s football teams that are “Pro,” like the NFL.

I was, however, welcome to send information, photos and any team gear that would be filed into their archives for which (upon request) one could view them at the library. Having been involved with publicity for the New York Sharks since 2002, I was more than happy to do so.

The curator soon informed me about a new display case entitled “Recent Acquisitions,” a glassed enclosure that would be changed regularly. If I were to obtain an IWFL football signed by the team, would they be willing to have it on exhibit? In October of 2005, that football sat for all to see and became the first item from a women’s tackle football to ever be displayed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Although I may be proud of my accomplishment, why did it take so long for women’s football to have this (temporary) acknowledgement?

It is the summer of 2002 when I learned that the New York Sharks women’s pro football team clinched the IWFL Championship game in Oregon. In New York, the media is focused on a Little League baseball team in the Bronx, that didn’t win. A team of players who are passionate about their sport comes home to a city void of accolades, indicative of the attitude towards women playing tackle football.

I first became aware of any women’s tackle football team that season and as a journalist writing for a local newspaper there was not much that I could do to get the word out. An email went out to the players with an apology from the owner, Andra Douglas, saying that the budget would not allow a big championship celebration. I asked where the ultimate place would be to have it and she replied, “Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant”. After a few phone calls, I got back to her and said, “You got it. Two hours. Free food, cash bar.”

The next step was for me to get them their accolades: congratulatory letters from Senators Hilary Clinton and Charles Schumer along with the presence of New York City’s Sports Commissioner, and a letter from the mayor.

Believe it or not, there are three women’s tackle football leagues in the country, with the IWFL having over 30 teams at present that even includes one from Montreal. The New York Sharks are just and example of one team composed of women who (unlike their male counterparts) have not learned to play football in high school or college, have full time jobs, oftentimes have children, and must shell out as much as $1000 for the season in order to fulfill their passion.

The expenses cover hired staff including coaches, physicians, and referees. Football fields have to be rented for both games and practice. Add to that the cost of travel and uniforms. Owners are hoping to see the season ending in “the black” by ticket sales, fundraisers, sales of team logo items and sponsors.

Andra Douglas grew up in Florida and was only privy to rugby and after school football in the grassy fields. Having moved to New York for her graduate work, she joined a flag football team in Brooklyn. It was a challenge from a tackle football team that gave them their first win, and Andra a chance at what she really wanted; a new life hoping to see her dream as a reality. It got even more heartfelt when she purchased her own team in August of 2000, continuing to play for other leagues. As the IWFL was formed in 2002, Andra made the decision to be a part of that league and in all cases taking on the position of quarterback. She finally retired last season at the age of 46, also having made to substitute for the kicker position as well.

As a heavy contact sport, players are prone to greater injuries, which may effect their source of income. It doesn’t stop them. Let’s call it Football Fervor. Many of the players keep themselves in shape by working out at the gym or running every day. They have to. The season schedule begins at the end of February with tryouts and mini-camps. As the first April game approaches, the New York Sharks practice three times per week, including a strenuous series of exercises just to loosen up for the moves.

Along with the physical is the mental challenge of learning and retaining the plays provided by the coach. It’s still unusual to have a woman as the head coach, since not enough years have gone by for players to become coaches. Surprisingly, the New York Sharks found a woman, Debbie Vance, who had an excellent record coaching a boys Junior Varsity high school football team and for the 2006 season hired both her and her coaching staff.

Where is the team going? What are Ms. Douglas’ goals? Last year the team was met by 60,000 screaming fans as they were afforded the opportunity of an eight minute scrimmage during half time at Giants Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey. Although it didn’t create a heavy dent in regards to future game attendance it did lead to having the NFL approaching the Sharks about starting a Junior Development Player program for girls.

This program will have the Sharks scouring high schools in the tri-state area recruiting girls ages 14-17 for a camp to be held in the late summer and coached by some of the Sharks players. The idea is to use the camp as a feeder system in order to participate when the girls turn 18.

In 2003, Andra looked to further the future of team sports by becoming the CEO of the FINS UP! Foundation, which has a strong outreach mission designed to create and support sports programs that build self-esteem and promote a fit lifestyle free of substance abuse in all forms, childhood obesity and gang/criminal activities.

The Foundation also funds girls sports teams, conducts sports camps that teach the fundamentals of team sports and sportsmanship, offers expertise to local high school girls’ athletic programs, provides professional female athletics, coaches and corporate executives to speak at schools and partners with charities that focus on health issues such as breast cancer, domestic violence, anorexia and obesity.

So, what’s the 2006 season been like for the New York Sharks? They’ve gone up against the Indianapolis Chaos (73-0), Delaware Griffins (48-0) (47-0) Manchester Freedom (20-0), Southern Maine Rebels (55-0), Montreal Blitz (53-7) (42-27) and Bay State Warriors (24-16). This puts them in the playoffs and keeps their regular season winning streak to 47 games.

Saturday, July 8th begins the playoff games, when the New York Sharks take on the Miami Fury and the Bay State Warriors battle the Atlanta Explosion. Although New York defeated Boston, there is the possibility that the two teams will go head to head a second time vying for the Eastern Conference Championship.

-by Merle Exit

New York Sharks Owner Andra Douglas Honored by Women’s Sports Foundation

On October 18th, 2005, New York Sharks Owner Andra Douglas received the Yolanda L. Jackson GiveBack Award at the 26th Annual Salute to Women in Sports Awards dinner at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan. Ms. Douglas was presented the award by Women’s Sports Foundation founder Billy Jean King. This honor is awarded to an athlete who exemplifies what it means to be a role model and who understands the importance of “giving back.” A check for $1,000 will be donated by the Women’s Sports Foundation to the girls sports program of Ms. Douglas’ choosing. “I had no idea I was to receive this award. I was taken completely by surprise and incredibly honored to have been acknowledged in this way by an organization such as the Women’s Sports Foundation,” said Ms. Douglas.

The Female athletes in attendance represented 43 different sports ranging from archery to basketball and judo to wrestling – a powerful grouping of women showcasing the dynamics of muscles, beauty and attitude. Among the familiar faces were top athletes Tamika Catchings (basketball), Carly Patterson (gymnastics) and Mia Hamm (soccer). Celebrity award presenters included Soledad O’Brien, L.L. Cool J and Star Jones Reynolds. L.L. Cool J acknowledged the powerful energy around him as he faced the audience and said, “There are some amazing genetics in this room!”

Former WNBA star Kym Hampton was also honored for her achievement in the world of women’s professional basketball. Kym is an avid supporter of the New York Sharks as well as an active member of the Board of Directors of the Fins Up Foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded by Andra Douglas in 2003. The Fins Up Foundation supports and provides opportunities for young girls to participate in various sports, including football.

-by Dana Sparling


Pictured l to r are: Billie Jeak King, Andra Douglas, Yolanda L. Jackson

Shark Attack

Owner/Quarterback Andra Douglas Is Doing Everything She Can to Keep Her Dream Alive

Andra Douglas has always lovedfootball – but not just from the bleachers.

Named the Professional Female Athlete of 2004 by the Nassau CountySports Commission, she plays quarterback for the New York Sharks, thedefending Independent Women¹s Football League (IWFL) Eastern Conference Champions.

Other New York athletes to be honored with her at the annual event include basketball great Julius Erving, former Jetsquarterback and current sportscaster Boomer Esiason, Rangers Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert, and journalist Frank Deford.

Douglas also owns and manages the Sharks. Four years ago, when the IWFL was formed, all the teams from the previous league were up for sale. No onewanted to purchase the Sharks, so at the last minute Douglas decided she would. She cashed in her 401(k) and paid $20,000 to keep the Sharks alive.

“I just wanted to keep playing. It was our passion; we didn¹t want our dream of tackle football disappearingin front of our eyes,” Douglas said.

Even though she is the team owner, Douglas does not live the imagined glamorous life of schmoozing withcelebrities and ducking the paparazzi¹s cameras. With help from her staff of two, she does everything that is neededto ensure the smooth running of the team, including handling the 42 members’ different personalities.

“I don¹t know how she does it. She manages to carry a lot of hats at the same time but she keeps it all together,” said head coach Ruben Sanchez.

Sanchez describes Douglas¹s style as a mixture of firmness, compassion, and working closely with the girls both on and off the field.

“Andra is fantastic. As an athlete,she is all-around and she supports everyone else when they need her,” said Vivian Alberty, a center who wasa former Olympic diver.

Apart from running the team on a day-to-day basis, Douglas makes practicethree times a week while maintaining herfull-time career as a creative consultant.

“Somehow you make time for the things you love,² she said.

Owning a team these last four years has given Douglas a chance to test herentrepreneurial skills; for her it is just a smidgeon of the overall benefit of beinga sportswoman.

“My mom used to tell me, ‘Don¹t takea backseat to anyone,’ but not until I participatedin sports was I able to put that in action,” said Douglas, who is also aformer executive at Time Warner.

By forming Fins Up! – a foundationfor female athletes that promotes women and girls in competitive teamsports – Douglas hopes to pass on the confidence and sense of self she gainedas a result of participating in sports.

“I really want to do this for the kids coming up and for the women today,” she said, remembering having to playon boys teams because there was no other option. “We should not be competing against men. We should haveour own teams; we are different animals,” she added.

Douglas hopes to introduce new programs at Fins Up! including coach-ing and refereeing seminars, and to collaborate more with other women¹s organizations.

Sanchez praises Douglas¹s managing style, which has included hiring veteran coaches to fully staff the offense and de-fense. He is looking forward to the team¹s performance this coming season, which runs from April through July.

“We have a good combination of players. Our defense is very solid, and offensively we¹re going to be explosive,” he said.

The team is welcoming the return of running back Lakisha Grant, who was outlast season after tearing a ligament in her knee. Grant is a strong, fast runner who is expected to have a major impact on the team¹s overall performance.

Douglas will receive her honor on April 19 at a dinner at the Chateau Briand on Long Island.

“I¹m very flattered and honored to be receiving the award,” Douglas said.”Women have to work way too hard to get acknowledgment in the sports fieldand it just means a lot.”

by Wendy Mbekelu from New York Resident

Sunshine Classic Champions!!

The T-Devils flag football team, made up largely of New York Sharks players, returned home hands-down champions from the WAFFF Sunshine Classic Flag Football Tournament held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida this past weekend, February 6-8th. Coached by longtime Sharks veteran, Lynn Lewis, the T-Devils (also known as “TNT”) played a total of 6 games in 3 days to emerge winners. The team scored the most points (88) and gave up the fewest (24) of all the teams in the tournament.

Among the former and current Sharks who contributed to the win were: Anna “Tonka” Tate, Courtney Eaton, Natalie Jufer, Monica Marsh, Jennifer Blum, Beth DeVito, Missy Marmorale, Christine Hilla, Lori DeVivio, Donna Spilotras, Dana Donahue-Sparling, and Ridley Sperling.

Lynn Lewis started the team back in 1993. Most of those same players were still there on Sunday, some ten years later, giving it their all to win yet another in a long line of championships. Clearly, the edge hasn’t been lost with age!

The team battled it out and won 7-0 against the BADD Girls from Virginia in the semi-final. Having been dealt their only loss during the weekend by this same team the day before in triple overtime, the T-Devils were ready to beat the BADD Girls and leave no question who deserved to be in the championship game.

The 1st place game against Houston Fire and Ice came down to the final 4 minutes of the game where the T-Devils had been trailing 12-0 since the first half. Lori DeVivio came up big with a huge reception for a touchdown with 4:16 left on the clock. The conversion was missed, however on the next possession, Courtney Eaton came up with the second touchdown following center Anna (Tonka) Tate right into the endzone on a quarterback sneak. The game was now tied 12-12 with under 2 minutes left on the clock. Lori DeVivio once again came up big with a diving catch in the endzone for the extra point, putting TNT ahead 13-12. The seasoned and tough TNT defense held Houston at bay for the remainder of the game, culminating in this amazing, heart-stopping (literally in several cases) win for TNT.

CONGRATULATIONS, CHAMPIONS!!!

by Dana Donahue-Sparling

WAFF Sunshine Champions

NYC’s secret team

New York Metro

New York Metro

Candyce Garrett, Artist

Candyce Garrett is New Mexico’s only granite sculptor and one of only a hand-full of monumental granite sculptors in the United States. In 2001 sheapprenticed for internationally known granite sculptor Jesus Moroles, andcurrently has her studio in Ruidoso, New Mexico.

Candyce has been an instructor at the Southwest Stone Carvers Symposium1996-2000, the International Stone Sculptors Symposium in Seattle,Washington 1996, and has done demos at Anderson Ranch Art Center in SnowMass Village, Colorado and Haystack in Deer Isle, Maine.

For more of Candyce’s work click here.

Candyce created this sculpture and presented it to Sharks owner Andra Douglas.
Football Sculpture
“NY Sharks Football”

Women ready for some football

The Brooklyn Paper

During the workweek she litigates; on weekends,she crushes bones. Lawyer jokes aside, Lynn Lewis, the 175-pound lawyer cum linebacker for the New York Sharks professional women’s tackle football team, said her two passions suit her like cease and desist, law and order, block and tackle.

“I’m pretty tough, so it’s very aggressive,” she said. “And being a lawyer, you gotta be tough, so the two go together, I guess.”

Lewis, a Bay Ridge resident who since 1999 has been roughing it in the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL), will strap on the shoulder pads for her first game of the season on Saturday, April 3, when she and the Sharks face the Atlanta Xplosion in Queens.

But Lewis, who shares the field with Veronica Simmons, another Brooklyn-born linewoman, said her sights are set on other foes.

The season, which spans eight games through June, will give the Sharks a second chance to beat the Sacramento Sirens, who last year defeated Lewis and her teammates 41-30 in the IWFL Championship game, the league’s Super Bowl.The loss surprised Lewis, whose team was the defending champion and ended the regular season undefeated.

“When that game comes, we will win,” she said, boldly predicting this season’s first meeting between the teams.

The 44-year-old Bay Ridge native and Fort Hamilton High School alum has torpedoed the pigskin since she was a kid, when she competed with the boys in afternoon games of touch football.

Even after her mother scolded her for playing with the boys, Lewis continued, now with a team full of police officers, nurses and stockbrokers.

The Sharks were formed in 2000, after a Manhattan businesswoman scooped it up andadded it to more than 20 women’s tackle teams nationwide. In Lewis’ first-ever game with the team, the Sharks beat the Minnesota Vixens12-6, proving that New York was ready for some football.

Besides the 5-foot-8 Lewis, at least five other Brooklynites play on the Sharks, including Rose Addison, of Bay Ridge; Darleen Hall, ofPark Slope; Lori DeVivio, of Marine Park; and Virginia “Cha Chi” Leon, a Coney Island-born running back now living on Staten Island.

“We have more Brooklyn roots this year in terms of coaching,” said Lewis, whose Sharks practice three times a week at Fort Hamilton High School.

The team, comprised of about 40 women ranging in age from 19 to 44, has won one championship, when it beat theAustin Outlaws 24-4 in 2002.

Before then, however, Lewis played flag football for the T-Devils, as in Tasmanian Devils, she said.With that team, forwhich she began playing in 1988, she rose to the ranks of captain in 1994, the year she and the team began a four-yearchampionship streak.

As she prepares to begin her 16th year in organized football, Lewis admits that one of her biggest opponents is age.Each year, new, young women join the team, each stronger than the last.

“They’re faster than I am,” said Lewis. “They’re coming into their prime and I’m dwindling. I mean, my aches last weeks. But experience takes the place of quickness.”

by Jotham Sederstrom