Women who are wondering how to keep in shape – physically and socially – during the winter months to come should meet Kathryn Hogg and her plans for indoor Footy during the months to come.
Hogg is a self-identified “computer geek” who writes software for electric utilities, a mom, a catalyst and an importer – of an amateur sport that is gaining traction in Minnesota. She is a prime mover in importing the Australian sport of Footy, more specifically women’s Footy, to the U.S. and to Minnesota. She is patient to explain a bit about Australian Football to the uninitiated:
Australian Football is a fast paced exciting game that is played with a ball similar in shape but slightly larger than an American football. It combines elements of soccer, basketball, ultimate, lacrosse, and even volleyball. Points are scored by kicking the ball between goal posts at either end of the field. The ball is advanced by hand passing or kicking. Hand passes are similar to an underhand serve in volleyball and the kicks are similar to punts in American football. Unlike soccer you can catch, grab, or pick up a ball. Some of the most exciting and elegant plays occur when players are catching balls in the air which makes it exciting to play or watch and leads to the fast paced, high scoring nature of the game.
Hogg credits the rules as well as the players for the growth of Footy.
In general I like team field sports but I dislike offside rules. To me, Aussie rules is the purest form of all the ball sports. You use your hands and feet, no offside, and the ball is always live.
She compares Aussie Footy rules to the rules of Ultimate in which she is also an avid participant. She recently told a reporter that “the appeal of ‘footy’ lies in what it is…fast-paced, competitive, with an emphasis on teamwork on and off the field and what it isn’t: It’s not rugby, as many assume, and it’s not violent, because it has tackling rules that prohibit American football-style collisions.”
Though Hogg was born in Australia, her parents moved to Scotland when she was just nine months old so it’s difficult to connect the dots, but then again who knows? The first evidence of her affinity for the Aussie sport is manifest years later when she settled in Minnesota.
As the story goes, back in 1980 Hogg started watching ESPN’s coverage of Aussie Rules Footy. Over the years, as women began to be taken seriously in the sports world, Hogg decided to see if women were playing Aussie Rules Footy.
Hogg reports that her early Internet searches for women playing Footy led her to the “Victorian” Women’s Football League and to the USAFL site. Using the chat forums of the US site she suggested that a women’s clinic should be held at the 2003 nationals. A California Footy enthusiast saw that post and took it a step further by organizing teams to play in the inaugural women’s match in the US.
“The Orange County Bombshells and an all comers team played in Kansas City in October 2003. The Bombshells routed the opposition by 44 points,” she remembers. Recalling that “ruck” Hogg reflects “I wouldn’t have missed it for anything, the most memorable thing about the first women’s match was just being part of something new, and I guess scoring the first goal in American women’s Footy.”
From that humble beginning women’s Footy, has come into its own, much to the credit of Hogg. She is a founding member of the women’s team of the Minnesota Freeze Australian Rules Football Club and of the Women’s League which joined with the men’s club to co-found the Minnesota Australian Football Council to foster both men’s and women’s Footy.
At the end of March 2005 US Footy announced that Hogg had been elected to the board unanimously in the newly created position of Women’s Portfolio with the intention of furthering the development of Women’s Australian Football in North America. She; is also one of few women Minnesota Women plays on the U.S. national team competing in Australia’s International Cup tournament.
In 2011 the Minnesota Freeze Women’s Team fielded 25-30 players in its first year as an organized local women’s competition. This year the team also embarked on a tiered program to enhance women’s participation. The program includes a variety of options:
- “Fitness through Aussie Rules Football” from early January until mid-May, featuring training sessions (indoors) at different locations throughout the Twin Cities. The Fitness program is open to women of all ages and physical abilities who are “looking for that different type of workout, in a fun social environment.”
- The Rec Football League is a six week season of shorter training sessions featuring non-contact Footy played on a smaller field, limited to women players only.
- After the Rec Footy competition all players wishing to take it to the next level will have the opportunity to play on the Minnesota Women’s Team. The ultimate goal is for some representatives of the Minnesota Freeze women’s team to represent the state at the National tournament in early October 2012.
Women’s Footy is becoming a year-round sport with an ever-growing field of women of all ages and physical abilities. Keep up with the sport – and its ambitious promoter, Kathryn Hogg, by checking the team’s website or join other women’s Footy fans on Meetup. Contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.