Ottawa She-Gees win powder puff

It was another successful weekend for the annual Laurier Letterman Ontario University Athletics (OUA) powder puff tournament as this year saw what could be considered the largest gathering of powder puff teams in Laurier history.

The three-day flag football tournament took place from Feb. 9-11 and hosted 27 teams from all over the province.

“It was really, really successful,” said A.K. Heffernan, one of the coordinators of the Laurier Letterman powder puff tournament. “Everybody had a lot of fun.”

Powder puff, a flag football game played in the snow, is a popular tradition amongst colleges and universities in North America.

Laurier adopted the sport back in 1997 and since then it has become one of the biggest supporters of powder puff; hosting two tournaments and donating all profits to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada.

This year’s two tournaments estimated at having raised over $8,000 for the charity.

“It just gives an opportunity for girls to get involved playing football,” Heffernan said.

“We have a lot of great athletes here and it gives them a chance to learn a different sport. You see that there really are some amazingly talented girls that are really good football players.”

The 2012 OUA powder puff championship went to the Ottawa She-Gees after a remarkable comeback against McMaster in the final game. Down 6-0 with four minutes ticking away, an interception turned touchdown tied the game, and later a one-point conversion brought victory to Ottawa. The final score was a close 7-6.

“They were both two really good teams, very well coached and played a great game,” Heffernan added.

Last year, it was a team from Queen’s University that claimed the powder puff throne.

Laurier Letterman takes credit for organizing and running the two successful tournaments.

They had been working tirelessly since December, organizing everything from teams, coaches, referees; even the after party.

“We wanted to get people beforehand,” Heffernan elaborated. “We wanted to have solid crew to set things up, have a schedule in advance [and] get everything planned out.”

Special recognition goes to the four front men of the tournament: Reed Bracken, Heffernan, Drew Galpin, and Andrew Barbati, who are primarily responsible for powder puff’s huge success.

In the three days during the OUA tournament, the four coordinators spent around thirty long hours working.

“We lived there,” laughed Heffernan.

Additionally, Laurier referees and coaches voted on tournament all-stars from January’s Laurier-only powder puff tournament.

“There are so many girls that go out there and play hard,” Heffernan explained.

“We thought it would be nice if we could try to put together an all-star team so they could have some recognition.”

Powder puff is not only wildly popular among the female participants, but the coaches are also extremely involved in the whole process.

Some coaches are former Golden Hawk football players for the Laurier teams. The lady players get to have an inside look at what makes the big team on campus tick, with the coaches drawing up similar plays to that of the varsity squad.

“You get to put a plan in there,” Heffernan explained when asked about why the coaches love helping out with powder puff so much.

“You have to try and coach the girls up into it, convey your message to them and when you see that the girls are getting it, it’s such a rewarding experience.”

The culture of powder puff is something that not many will understand until they experience it for themselves.

Providing an opportunity to meet new people, powder puff teams are said to initiate life-long friendships.

But for now, as the warm weather melts the snow and girls begin to trade in their cleats for sandals, this essentially marks the end of another season of powder puff.

But just as quickly as it came and went, the 2013 season of powder puff will soon be gearing up and among us once again.

As Heffernan closed, “It got bigger this year [as opposed to] last year and I can only assume it will get bigger next year.”

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