WLUSU, Laurier athletics put on Powder Puff football

On Jan. 22 and 23, Alumni Field and University Stadium will play host to the annual women’s Powder Puff flag football tournament, presented by the Laurier Lettermen Club. This past weekend, the ladies played a set of exhibition games as part of the closing ceremonies for Winter Carnival. In the past, the event was part of the annual Laurier tradition, but it eventually faded out.

The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union and Laurier Lettermen Club partnered up to revive the event this year.

“We’re really excited to be a part of [Winter Carnival] and have WLUSU and Athletics come together,” said Lettermen president Jeremy Chemij. “We have two of the bigger organizations on campus doing something together, and it really brings together a lot of students.”

Lettermen is an all-male community group at Laurier comprised of athletes from a selection of varsity teams. The group hosts several charitable events throughout the year including Kids’ Day, which involves bringing in local public schools and teaching them how to play sports, as well as the Powder Puff tournament.

All coaches and referees are volunteers hailing primarily from the men’s football, rugby and soccer teams. The proceeds raised from the event are then donated to various charities, with the Breast Cancer Foundation being Powder Puff’s sole proprietor.

“We’ve donated upwards of $20,000 over the best four years,” said referee Adam Bestard, who completed his football career at Laurier this past fall.

The Powder Puff program was started in the late 1990s by current and former football coaches Josh Alexander and Kevin McNeill and has continued to expand over the years.

“There aren’t any opportunities for female football so it’s great that the guys come together and teach the game to females who want to learn,” said Powder Puff linebacker Laura Tober. “It’s such a good cause for breast cancer as well.”

The two-day tournament at Laurier makes way for the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) tournament held for schools throughout Ontario.

“This year we’ve had the most OUA schools involved,” said Bestard.

The OUA tournament will be held Feb. 4-6 and includes 26 teams, hailing from Waterloo, McMaster, Western, York, Ottawa, Guelph, Queen’s, Brock, Sheridan and Algoma College. Laurier will enter 10 rosters, nine from the Waterloo campus and one from Brantford.

“To have both [WLUSU and Athletics] come together is huge,” said Bestard. “Not only for Winter Carnival and Powder Puff, but for the school as a whole.”

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