Nursing grad seizes football opportunity I Men’s basketball plays in inaugural CBI championship
Nursing grad seizes football opportunity
AMY JO GLADFELTER ’97 MSN ’00 played volleyball, basketball, soccer, and golf at East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, but she was always intrigued by football. “I grew up on the Chicago Bears,” she said. “I just love the sport.”
However, when Gladfelter found an opportunity to play organized football last summer, she hesitated. The chance presented itself in September as she walked through North Halsted Market Days in Chicago. She came across a booth for the Chicago Force of the Independent Women’s Football League, an eight-year-old, full-tackle football organization in which 41 teams compete nationwide. “Initially I thought I was too small to play because the women in the booth were significantly larger than I am,” said the 5-foot-5 cornerback, who at Bradley volunteered her time with Alpha Phi Omega, which left little time for sports or intramurals. “But when I went to the Web site, I found women smaller in height and weight than I am who have been playing for years. That encouraged me to look into it.”
By October, she significantly increased her training schedule for a November tryout. She made the team and began practicing. “There’s a lot of learning, because a lot of us are learning a new sport, but at the same time you’re going full speed,” Gladfelter said. “The intensity, excitement and adrenaline are all present when you’re out there, even scrimmaging against your own teammates. It’s one of the most challenging sports I’ve ever played, but to have that level of athleticism with that much physical contact… there aren’t many female sports where you’re full contact.”
She practiced for three months with a broken right hand in 2008. In April, she learned she had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. While it wasn’t a football-related injury, she noticed symptoms of ACL tears during practice. “It was something I had to weigh and consider,” she said of an injury possibility. “But being a skydiver, I’m willing to take some physical risk to participate in sports I love. Unfortunately, it’s just part of the game. It’s something you accept to play.”
Before she was sidelined by her knee, the Forest Park resident and outreach nurse manager with Resurrection Health Care practiced three days a week — Monday, Thursday and Saturday, unless there was a game on Saturday. “You’re pretty sore and tired,” Gladfelter said of days after practice, “but all the women have made this time commitment, so there’s no whining. You just love it.”
They must truly enjoy it. It’s a pay-to-play league, in which players pay to cover the costs of the field, referees, travel, uniforms, and equipment. There is no compensation for playing. However, players can be sponsored and, according to Gladfelter, the Chicago franchise, which plays its home games at North Park University and drew a crowd of about 800 for its home opener this season, is among the best in the league at providing fundraising/sponsorship opportunities to its players to help offset the cost.
Gladfelter has found a bonus in new friendships with teammates and opponents alike. Typically, teams travel on game day and return the following day, leaving time after the game to socialize with their opponents. “Now that I’m involved, I’ve found the team camaraderie, and being on a team with 70-plus people is amazing,” she said. “The athletes are incredible on and off the field. They’re amazing women.”
About 1,600 women play in the IWFL, which was founded in 2000 and has teams in the U.S. and Canada. Visit iwflsports.com for more information.Nursing grad seizes football opportunity I Men’s basketball plays in inaugural CBI championship
Bradley leads the Missouri Valley Conference in student-athlete graduation rates for the eighth year in a row according to the Federal Graduation Rates Report by the NCAA. Men’s and women’s sports each had a 77 percent graduation rate, up one percent from last year. A total of 102 student-athletes also earned a minimum 3.0 GPA to be on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.
EITAN BARBALAT ’08 has been recognized as one of 10 finalists for the 2008 Division I Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in baseball. Barbalat, who was also named a first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American this spring, carried a perfect 4.0 grade point average in preprofessional biology into his final semester. On the field, Barbalat owns a 5-4 career record with two saves and a 3.86 ERA in 32 career appearances. The award’s acronym, CLASS, stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, and honors senior student-athletes who excel in four areas: classroom, community, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award has become one of the nation’s most prestigious college senior awards.