On the run: Lingerie Football League has mini camp in Tukwila

Katie Ryckman of Newcastle lines up with assistant coach Ryan Riess to run a timed drill at a Seattle Mist mini camp Wednesday at the Starfire Complex in Tukwila. Ryckman hopes to make the Seattle Mist Reserve squad.

Katie Ryckman of Newcastle lines up with assistant coach Ryan Riess to run a timed drill at a Seattle Mist mini camp Wednesday at the Starfire Complex in Tukwila. Ryckman hopes to make the Seattle Mist Reserve squad.

In between running drills and catching passes, Maggie Pearson stopped to share just how much she’s looking forward to playing for the Seattle Mist, Kent’s team in the new Lingerie Football League.

“I’ve been athletic my whole life but I haven’t really had the opportunity to play on a competitive team,” Pearson, 24, said during a mini camp Wednesday at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. “This is just perfect for me. I’ve done swimsuit competition, I’m a (fitness) figure competitor, so the lingerie and the fitness is right up my alley.”

The dozen players on the regular roster joined a couple dozen other women hoping to be added to a few roster spots on the team during a two-hour minicamp. About two dozen fans, mainly friends and family of the players, showed up to watch the camp along with about 10 media members.

The Mist opens its four-game season Sept. 11 against the San Diego Seduction at the ShoWare Center in Kent. The Mist will play two road games before returning to Kent Jan. 1 to play the Phoenix Scorch. Tickets range from $14 for end zone seats to $107 for VIP midfield seats.

Pearson, a former soccer player, gymnast and hurdler at Federal Way High School, decided to give football a try for the first time.

“I’ve played around with the boys in the cul-de-sac, but I haven’t played Pee Wee football or anything,” the 5-foot-7, 135-pound Pearson said of her football background. “But it kind of comes natural.”

The league features scantily clad women playing seven-on-seven tackle football on a 50-yard field. Each offense will have a quarterback, center, two running backs and three receivers.

A number of Kent Reporter readers wrote letters to the editor to protest the team playing at the ShoWare Center after the league announced its home arena for the Mist last month.

“It’s an insult to women and to Kent,” reader Pat Stevens wrote April 7. “Please send these women to play their ‘games’ in a place where they have the naked pole dancers and topless women.”

Pearson said she doesn’t understand the objections.

“Beach volleyball players wear less clothing than us,” said Pearson, who works in sales for Southern Wine and Spirits West, a beverage distributor. “We have our shoulder pads, knee pads and elbow pads.”

Mitchell Mortaza, the founder and chairman of the league, traveled to the minicamp from his home office in West Hollywood, Calif., to help kick off the preparation by the Mist for the 2009 season.

“Seattle was a no-brainer,” Mortaza said on picking the city for one of the 10 teams in the league. “Their support for the Seahawks is second to none. And we’re going to be in a brand-new building where the staff is really catering to us.”

Mortaza said the Sept. 11 game at ShoWare will include a large pre-party with live music by yet-to-be named national recording artists and plenty of food and alcohol.

“It will be an adult Disneyland-type tailgate village,” Mortaza said.

Mortaza admitted the players still have a lot to learn about football.

“Ninety-nine percent have not played football,” he said. “They all have an athletic background. We’ll mold them into football players in the next four to five months.”

The appearance of each woman plays a major role in the selection of Mist members.

“We look for confidence, athleticism and beauty,” Mortaza said. “But we will not have any 225-pound bruisers out there.”

Jason Stricedich, of Kirkland, came out to the camp to watch his girlfriend, Shannon Seifer. She made the team at a tryout last fall in Seattle. They have dated for two years and three months.

“I want to root her on and give her as much support as possible,” Stricedich said.

Stricedich, who helped set up an initial nightclub promotion for the team last year, loves the idea of lingerie football.

“It’s brillant,” Stricedich said. “You can’t get a better male-market sport. For the perfect niche for men 21 to 60, this is perfect. It’s a great brand.’

Stricedich expects the caliber of football to improve after the women practice more and more the next few months.

“There’s going to be some dropped balls,” he said. “But by the time season starts, they’ll get the job done. Nobody wants to go and watch the girls, even if they’re in lingerie, not catch a ball or not run with a ball.”

Alicia McLauchlin, a 5-6, 110-pound quarterback, plans to throw the ball as well.

“I’m really excited to play,” said McLauchlin, of Tacoma, who works as a waitress at Joey’s restaurant on Lake Union in Seattle. “Hopefully, I’ll play quarterback. That’s my thing.”

For more information, go to www.myseattlemist.com.

For tickets, go to www.showarecenter.com.


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