The Storm, northern Nevada’s representative in the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL), found one willing partner to help it prepare for a first season as an 11-man squad. Sparks High welcomed the team with open arms.
“We went to multiple high schools. We went everywhere asking for the ability to play on their field. We were willing to work with them, and they flat out said ‘No.’ Sparks was the only one willing to work with us,” Nevada Storm coach Joel Primus said. “We told them that we would not only donate new grass, but we’d put it in for them. They treated us excellent. They’ve been more than accommodating.”
The jump up to 11-man football has been a significant change. Teams don’t spread it out as much on offense because there are six more players on the field at a time. The Storm runs a “flex bone” offense, and tries to utilize its team speed. On defense, it sets up in a 3-5-3 formation.
While it has been a big change from last season, Primus said last year’s success will go a long way toward helping solidify the franchise in its new league.
“It was an excellent experience. We were really disappointed that we couldn’t go further than that. We couldn’t get the finances to get over to Towanda, Penn.,” Primus said. “We have a lot of returning players. I think winning the championship contributed to the increased roster size we have this year.”
There are 31 players on the roster, but injuries have proved a problem for a team with not many subs. The Storm is currently on its fourth quarterback, so that has stifled some of the passing game.
“With a 30-women roster, you’re required to ask more and more of them to play both sides of the field,” Primus said. “First, the female anatomy is already a little more prone to injury in a contact sport like this. But then the more that get hurt, the more you ask to play both ways and then even more get hurt. It’s kind of a difficult situation. Some of the more established teams have rosters in the 50’s and 60’s. We’re hoping to get there with a little more notoriety.”
One of the players who is part of the team this season is Sparks High volleyball coach Tarina Elliott, who plays wide receiver on offense and linebacker on defense.
“I knew some of the girls on the team and I watched them. It looked like a lot of fun,” Elliott said. “It’s been really cool. It’s pro and college rules. It’s full tackle. It’s known as a man’s sport, so to actually be playing it is fun. Just being on the team, everybody is into it. It’s worth it.”
Elliott’s volleyball program also benefits from Sparks High’s partnership with the Storm.
“Boosters is running the concessions, but volleyball is helping out, so volleyball is benefiting as well,” Elliott said. “We’re just putting a lot back into Sparks High. We’re trying to draw in the crowds, and Sparks makes money off of it. It’s great to put back into the high school that I work at.”
So far, the Storm has only racked up a 1-3 record, but that one win came in the only game against a division foe. The Storm also faces teams out of the more established Women’s Football Alliance (WFA). The games that matter for reaching the playoffs are against the Nor Cal Red Hawks and the California Quake. The Storm might pick up an extra game against a team from Colorado.
As a tier 3 squad, the Storm must be invited to the postseason.