Thursday, December 6, 2012

Atlanta Steam: New Kid on the Block in the LFL's Eastern Conference

By Gino Payne
For the women in the LFL, the order of making a team goes as follows:
Impress the coaches in the open tryouts and get invited to attend the team’s official Mini-camp.
Shine at Mini-camp and make the final 25-30 women who will attend the team’s official Training Camp in January.
Perform among the top 20 girls in Training Camp, and make the roster…
Many of the athletes who were invited to attend Mini-camp with some of the other league’s franchises tried out for Atlanta also, but did not survive the cut. Moreover, many of the women who were cut during Atlanta’s tryouts had already made the cut for other LFL franchises. This goes to show the quality of players the Steam are looking for. In fact All-Star cornerback for the Seattle Mist Erica Smith, who attended the Atlanta tryouts to observe the proceedings, was so impressed by what she saw that she is officially moving to Atlanta to be a part of the franchise.  What does this say about the skill and talent that is expected of the Steam players? I’m not quite sure, but who better to weigh in on the subject than the athletes who have dropped their commitment to other LFL franchises to try to make the roster for the Steam?
Here now are the offerings from some of the women who made the first cut for Atlanta as well as some of those who didn’t and returned to their respective teams and/or lives. Let the “War of Words” begin…
Erica Smith – 2012 Seattle Mist All Star (Observed Atlanta Steam tryouts)
    “I saw some beasts out there, a lot of aggression from girls who wouldn’t give up, and that’s good to see from a rookie team. The amount of talented defensive players was good to see… I haven’t told my teammates I’m moving to the Atlanta Steam yet. I’m hoping…I’m sure they will be happy for me.”
Tanyka Renee –2012 Philadelphia Passion player (Observed Atlanta Steam tryouts)
    “This is more girls than have ever shown up at any Passion Tryout… they look great. This is going to be a stacked [Atlanta] team.”
Sharlene Fuller –Invited to the 2013 Jacksonville Breeze Mini-camp (Choosing to attend the Steam Mini-camp instead)
    “I feel like the women who tried out in Atlanta have more talent and aggression, [than the women of the Breeze] more drive and are hungry for it, but the Breeze has qualified veterans, so it kind of evens things out. The Atlanta team is hungry and excited to prove themselves and put a dent in the LFL, so the Breeze better not take us for granted. If things don’t work out [for me] here in Atlanta, I will not be interested in returning to the Jacksonville franchise. I would have to call it a wrap at least until next season.”
Alexandra Stone –Invited to the Philly Passion 2013 Mini-camp (Choosing to attend the Steam Mini-camp instead)
    “The girls from Philadelphia were happy for me. They all wished me luck when I told them I had to leave. If for some reason I don’t make the Atlanta team, I might be interested in returning to the Philadelphia team, but my heart is set here in Atlanta ”
Heather Johnston –Invited to the Philly Passion 2013 Mini-camp (Invited to camp with Steam)
    “The girls in Philadelphia were great. We learned so much from them, but I would much prefer to represent for my home town [Atlanta].”
Ashley Johnston –Invited to the Jacksonville Breeze 2013 Mini-camp (Invited to camp with Steam)
    “For those teams that think they can’t be beaten, bring it on. If you think we are afraid to get hit you are in for a rude awakening because not only are we not afraid to get hit, we are not afraid to hit the crap out of somebody… But we’d prefer to do our talking on the field. Yeah, so leave it at that.
Sweetness Jones – Indicated that she was confident she’d be on the final roster for the 2013 Baltimore Charm. (Invited to Mini-camp with the Steam)
    “I would have to say the Atlanta athletes are more aggressive overall, but Baltimore has a great coaching staff, and Atlanta is just up and coming.”
Some of the women who didn’t make the cut felt the brunt end of the amount of talent that showed up at the Atlanta tryouts.
Melissa Coates – Canadian Body Builder and former member of Philly Passion (Cut early in Atlanta tryouts)
    “…If I was good enough to make the Philadelphia team, then why was I unable to make this [Atlanta] team. I was pretty upset”
Efeme Imoudu – Invited to the Minnesota Valkyrie 2013 Mini-camp (Cut late in the Atlanta tryouts.)
    “…At the Valkyrie tryouts, there were eighty women, maybe. When you are talking about nearly four hundred athletes, it’s really hard to get a solid look [at everyone.]”
Efeme shared that she had only tried out for the Valkyrie in order to prepare for the tryouts in Atlanta. This goes to show that the Atlanta coaches and staff are being far more selective in assembling their roster than some of the other teams.
The Atlanta Steam began holding practices in December to prepare for what will undoubtedly be a tough minicamp.  This team has several players that could easily be the superstar on other teams, and with Pro-Bowl cornerback Erica Smith coming to Atlanta’s Mini-camp this January, the rich are getting richer. If competition indeed breeds success, the Eastern Conference should be on high alert.

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