Posted by: Ethan Johnson | May 9, 2010

IWFL: Dallas Diamonds vs Atlanta Xplosion 05/08/2010

Here we go! It’s time once again for the real football action. Clear the airwaves!

Previously: The Dallas Diamonds schooled the Minnesota Vixen. This time they played against the undefeated Atlanta Xplosion. The ticket taker at the gate asked me if I was ready for another blowout. I said that I hoped that Atlanta was going to make things more competitive but wanted Dallas to win anyway. Who brought the fire?

Dallas Diamonds in-game action

Dallas lines up against Atlanta

Well, Atlanta sure looked intimidating during the pre-game warmups. Unlike the Minnesota Vixen, Atlanta had a small army of coaches and staff and the team seemed well disciplined. The only red flag for me was that a fair number of players seemed “undersized” (short) which might equate to mismatches with Dallas’ taller and bigger players.

Note: This game was dedicated to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

Dallas Diamonds in-game

Almost as good as being there.

Dallas and Atlanta seemed to struggle with finding their rhythm for the first few possessions, but in due time Dallas found the end zone first, then scored a field goal to stay in the driver’s seat.

Dallas Diamonds QB scramble

Dallas QB back to throw

However, there was a new sheriff in town, as Dallas was denied the shut-out when Atlanta scored a field goal. For absolute sure, it wasn’t going to be another 82-0 rout. The score was 17-3 Dallas at the half.

Atlanta Xplosion player

An opposition viewpoint

I made my way to the visitor’s side for the start of the second half. For my purposes, besides wanting to hang out with the (perhaps) visiting road warriors, it was going to be instructive as to how Atlanta was going to respond to being down by two touchdowns. Granted, it was 63-0 at the start of the 3rd quarter in the Minnesota game, which wasn’t conducive to feeling positive, but being on the losing end of the game is a character test.

Atlanta came out feeling upbeat and the coaches stressed to the team that a two-touchdown deficit isn’t impossible to overcome. The team was supportive of each other and the visiting fans were really into the game. But Dallas has heart too, and coaches, and staff, and passionate fans.

Atlanta Xplosion water bottles

I just love the DIY vibe of this water bottle assortment.

Atlanta put a few drives together but were not able to find the end zone. Frustration set in and the positive attitude I sensed earlier in the game evaporated. Things were hopping on the Dallas side, and the Diamonds rode that enthusiasm to a 23-3 victory.

Final score

So close and yet so far.

Well prior to the game I decided to hone my journalism skillz and make a list of “players of interest” so I could focus on some specific players and make a point of writing about their performance. I didn’t see all of them, but it was like having a bingo card in my back pocket. With God as my witness, I cited #83 (Ann Marie Shambaugh) as one of my “players to watch” and she caught the game-ending interception.

#20 (Valerie Murawka) caught my eye a few times over the last 2 games but mostly on the sidelines because I couldn’t quite place where she was on the field. Armed with her jersey number, I learned that she plays in the secondary alongside #21 (no name on web site). Murawka had a ball slip through her fingers and I am sure she wants that sure-fire interception back. Maybe against Kansas City.

Valerie Murawka

Valerie Murawka meets her peeps

As pictured above, I decided to take things to the next level and hang around after the game for the “meet the teams” opportunities. I exchanged pleasantries with a few key players and really wanted to speak with #19 (Shra Charley) but I didn’t have my facts 100% and was not sure if she was the player from the Pacific Islands (she is). If I get the chance next time I will try to score a mini interview.

Amanda Heilman

Amanda Heilman signing autographs

While hanging around on the periphery during most of the glad-handing and autograph signing, I made my way over to #47 (Jen Welter). I made a point of having a few words with her, and I will relate the story to you, the erstwhile reader as well. Back when I “discovered” women’s football, I did some Googling and found a video news clip featuring Jen Welter. This in turn got me interested in the Dallas Diamonds, and ultimately I became a season ticket holder.

When I speak to people about my interest in women’s athletics I often say that I live my beliefs. I believe in supporting women’s athletics and despite my meager income I find ways to pitch in. Being a Dallas Diamonds season ticket holder wasn’t a big investment financially for me but ultimately that expense helps support women like Jen Welter and others that aspire to play pro football. It felt good to bring things full circle last night and meet the player that showed me one of the many ways that heroes redefine the possible.

Me and Jen Welter

Do not adjust your set: I am really that tall.

It was time for Atlanta to hit the road, and for me to support one of the sponsors with a post-game beer. Done, and done.

Atlanta team bus

Happy trails

Red Robin beer glass

Glug glug glug

I shot the bull for a while with “Paladin” (one of the atmosphere generators for the Diamonds) and he told me that his attraction to the Diamonds was cut and dried: This is Texas, and this is football. So it’s not just me saying that this is the real football action.

I also met the team owner (Dawn Berndt) which puts me 2-for-2 in the “meeting local women’s football team owners” department. I passed the URL to this blog along on a restaurant napkin to her so we’ll see if she chimes in via the comments box.

Either way, a good time was had, Dallas wins again, and will face their toughest test on May 22 against the Kansas City Tribe. This is the final regular season home game so you’re gonna be there, right? How about you? Okay, I’m holding you to that. Be there or be square!



  1. Ethan, It was a pleasure to meet you last night, and I wanted to say thank you so much for your commitment to the Dallas Diamonds and all of the woman who give their body, mind, & Spirit… blood, sweat, & tears… and ultimately themselves to the love of sport. I am so glad that I was the catalyst for bringing you in as a fan of the Diamonds, and I hope we will both be able to support each other in the future, now that we know about you as well…

    I am also honored to add that I will be among the 6 Dallas Diamonds who are a part of USA football’s Team USA, playing in the first ever International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Women’s World games in Stockholm Sweden this summer…. Watch out world… The the ladies of football are going global!

    Best Wishes… Yes we beat the Explosion… but that is the past… we are on to the next ones… Focus on the Kansas City Tribe!!! I hope you all will come see us play at Pennington Field in Bedford on May 22nd at 3pm!

  2. Nice article Ethan, and it was really nice meeting you after the game. As you can probly tell we really are kinda passionate about the game around her. Next home game let me know and I’ll introduce you to some of the “players of interest” yuou mentioned and maybe you can get those interviews.

  3. It was really kewl to run into you at the after party!!

    You sem to have the same passion for what these ladies do as many of us…

    Catch ya at the next game..

    aka MADNESS
    DIAMONDS Superior fan


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