I had the pleasure watching from the Diva’s sidelines, a team firing on all cylinders against their first round playoff opponent the Columbus Comets. The confidence level of the coaches and players were so high, that there was no doubt on how this game was going to turn out. The final score; Divas 69 – Comets 8.
ACES Sports Channel, had a chance to chat with three Divas players that participated in this big victory; LB/DE #33 Donna Wilkinson, QB #2 Christina Tu, TE #86 Melissa Washington.
Interview – Donna Wilkinson
Q. Congrats to you and the Divas in a convincing win. Strong performance from both Offense and Defense against the Comets, why was that?
A. We came off a one point loss to Boston the previous game and had a very challenging two weeks of practice, fundraising and playoff preparation. The team came in with a sense of urgency and played aggressive all game. When the Divas come out strong and do what the coaches have prepared us to do, we are one of the most explosive teams in women’s football on both offensive and defense.
Q. What were the key turning points in the first half that allowed the Divas to dominate on both sides of the ball?
A. We turned it on from the beginning and that was the key. We kept the pressure on the entire game. Everyone was hungry.
Q. Did the team feel nervous during the days leading up to the big game? If so how did you guys deal with it?
A. We knew going into this game that we should be able to handle Columbus and that we just needed to be focused. People were playing new positions and we wanted to out good looks on film as we prepare for playoff run. Our big game is coming up next against Boston who has beaten us in the playoffs the past four years.
Q. When you I spoke you mentioned of a position change for you, change from linebacker to defensive end. How did it feel to line up in a three point stand vs. a standard linebacker two point stand?
A. I’m very comfortable in a three point stance. I played tight end for the past seven years and it was an easy transition to defensive end from linebacker this year. I payed defensive end for Team USA at the Women’s World Championships and I can help our team at that position.
Q. Did at times did you feel kind of lost at that position, or did it come with some ease?
A. Defensive end comes very natural to me. Most of football does.
Q. What are Divas chances in going all the way this year?
A. We are positioned to make a run all the way this year. If we execute and come out hard on every play, no one can beat us. I feel good about where we are at.
Q. What should your fans expect to see from this upcoming game at Boston?
A. We are going to play hard and fast against Boston. We are going to leave it all on the field and give them our best effort. No hope. We take it all from them.
Interview – Christina Tu
Q. Great win for Divas, and big plays made on both sides of the ball. Can you tell me how did you prepare for the Comets?
A. We prepared for the Comets the same way we do for every team. We come off the ball hard during practice and give 100% every day at practice. We also studied film and prepared as a unit to make each other better.
Q. You played a lot this game, what did you learn from your performance?
A.There is always so much you can learn from every team that you play against. I am still new to the position, so I am starting to learn how to read defenses and gaps and when to check (if applicable).
Q. How would you describe the type of offense that the Divas run?
A. I would like to think run an aggressive offense. It starts with our O-Line coming off the ball to start up amazing things, RB/HB/FBs running hard and blocking, receivers running their routes and making athletic catches.
Q. Were you or your teammates nervous before the game?
A. Always nervous before a game. No game is ever a guarantee. Columbus always comes and plays hard.
Q. Why did the Divas beat the Comets in such a dominating fashion?
A. Offense and defense were all one the same page, working as one team. Our motto this year has been #ALLIN and #Nohope, and we try to carry that with every game/practice that we have. Picking each other up no matter what happens.
Q. Did you play sports in High School and College? If so which sports did you play?
A. I played track and lacrosse in high school. Club lacrosse in college and flag football.
Q. What will it take for the Divas to beat Boston?
A. Maintaining the same energy level from the Columbus game. Coming out strong from the first snap to the last touchdown.
Interview – Melissa Washington
Q. Congrats for a big team victory, how do you feel?
A. I feel great about this win. We played great as team on offense, defense, and special teams. It feels good when everyone contributes to a win.
Q. I see that the offense play calling is very flexible that it allows you to line up at times as a tightend and other times out wide, which do you prefer?
A. I honestly enjoy both. I love lining up at the wide and running routes, but I also enjoy knocking people on their butts when blocking and helping the running backs score.
Q. How does it feel, when you are lined up across from a 5’5 defensive back and you stand 6’5?
A. It feels like I’m taking candy from a baby. I know that when I run hard crisp routes there is no DB in the league that can stop me. I almost feel bad sometimes.
Q. Which passing route do you prefer more, a slant across the middle or a fade to the outside?
A. I prefer running a slant up the middle. I am not to speediest person on the team but I think the slant route allows me to use my size and strength.
Q. What sports did you play in High School and College? Which one prepared you to play football?
A. I have played basketball basically my entire life. I played in high school. at Wake Forest University, and then went on to play professionally for 6 years. While I do love playing football, basketball will forever be my first love.
Q. Can you tell me a little about you’re off season conditioning and diet vs. during the season?
A. In the off-season I take it a little easy for the first few weeks after the season is over. I allow myself to recover but soon after I’m back in the gym or on the track or running hills. I can’t sit still very long. During the season I try to workout a couple days a week along with our normal Diva practices, which is tough sometimes fighting through the soreness from the game the weekend before. I don’t have a specific diet that I stick to, I always try to eat healthy, balanced meals both during the regular season and the off-season. But I am a foodie so sometimes I splurge.
Q. Will you be ready for Boston, and how will your performance be different from the last time the two played?
A. I am ready for Boston. I learned a lot this season. I felt like it was my rookie season all over again because I had to transition from playing DE to TE. It is a lot to remember. I think the difference for me in this game is that I know what to expect. I know what they are bringing and I know that I haven’t showed Boston the best me. So I think the real question should be is Boston ready.
Thank you for chatting with me and allowing our readers and your fans a little insight in big game preparations. We wish the Divas continue success and a victory in next weeks game against Boston, we will be cheering you on.