The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Photo credit: Nick Shockey / nshockey.express@gmail.com
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

Women’s football comes to Hughes Stadium

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The Sacramento Sirens defensive front lines up against the scout offensive in a walk through during practice April 7 at Center High School. Kristopher Hooks / [email protected]

Kristopher Hooks | Sports Editor | [email protected]

Sacramento Sirens to play four home games at City College

Spring football arrives at City College this month, but the Panthers won’t be playing. Or the Republic FC. Hughes Stadium will play host to the city’s Independent Women’s Football League semi-professional women’s football team, Sacramento Sirens.

The Sirens will play four games at Hughes Stadium, with the home opener April 18 against the California Quake.

In their 14 seasons, the Sirens have played at various high school fields throughout Sacramento, including Rio Linda and Natomas. This will be the first year the Sirens use Hughes Stadium as their home field, and the switch provides many opportunities, including being able to sell alcohol, according to Sirens’ owner Michelle Wiederhold.

“I wanted a venue that would showcase the team,” says Wiederhold. “You’d be surprised how many people don’t know that there’s an all-women’s tackle football team in Sacramento and that we’ve been here for 15 years.

“Hughes Stadium is open and obvious. It’s an amazing stadium. It has a sense of being something greater than high school. We want to draw in a crowd that likes to party.”

Despite not being well known throughout Sacramento, the Sirens are one of the city’s winningest teams. They hold a 104-28-1 overall record, have won five Western Conference Championships, three IWFL Championships and won the Women’s Affiliated Football Conference Championship in 2002.

According to Wiederhold, the team went through an ownership change in 2014 and missed a season. She says the team is currently going through a rebuilding and rebranding period.

“We’re here to win, but we’re still trying to rebuild the Sirens’ name and image and do something a little bit different,” says Wiederhold. “For me personally, it’s to get the Sirens name out there and rebuild, and if we happen to win that’s great.”

The team also lost its coaches of nine seasons in the overhaul after the staff decided to retire. Head coach Digol J’Beily, who is also the head coach at Center High School, runs the new coaching staff.

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“The thing that impresses me about these ladies is their commitment,” says J’Beily. “Some of these ladies drive two to three hours to get here for practice. They’re out of town, they work, some have family and kids, and they’re still committed to playing three days a week and on Saturdays.”

Since the team is player-owned and operated, some women on staff have also balance work, family and running a football team. Five of the players are also on the front office staff, including quarterback Alexis Vierra — who is the operations manager — and Wiederhold, who is also a starting defensive and offensive lineman.

For some of the rookies, like receivers Aricka Ellis and Morgan Otto, the balance doesn’t scare them, they are just happy to be playing tackle football.

“I’ve always played basketball, but when I found out that there was an actual women’s team that wasn’t flag football, I wanted to come out and play,” says Ellis. “Flag football is fun, but it’s not football.”

“I love football,” says Otto. “I didn’t even know that this team existed. I found out online and said, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m going to go and try out.’”

According to Wiederhold, most of the team is composed of players who have never played the game of football other than flag football. However, there are seasoned veterans on the team who have played well over five years, including Kimberly Bradshaw, who is in her 15th season.

Wiederhold is in her third season as a player and first season as the owner. She says taking over the team from the former owners wasn’t a difficult decision because the team has done many things for her physical and mental health, and she wanted to provide the same opportunity for others.

“If the most that I get out of this is knowing somebody on this team has a better understanding of life because they played the game of football and they were given that opportunity, I’m a happy camper,” says Wiederhold.

For more information about the Sacramento Sirens, visit www.thesacramentosirens.com

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