‘I love this game’

Diné woman tackles rough-and-tumble world of amateur football


Courtesy photo
Gerilynn Curley, a women’s football player, is shown with the Navajo Nation flag. She is a middle linebacker for the Phoenix PhantomZ, which is a member of the Independent Women’s Football League.

Gerilynn Curley didn’t think she would ever be able to play tackle football.

“When I first got interested in football it was probably around middle school,” she said. “But the love of football has always been a part of my life.”

However, she was told she couldn’t play the game.

“Back in school, it was very rare,” Curley, 35, said about being a female football player. “The coaches basically told me they can’t really accommodate for a female football player. So I kind of put football aside.”

Then 10 years ago, after she moved to the Phoenix-metro area, she came across a flyer that would change her life.

“I walked into my gym at my apartment complex and I seen a flyer stating ‘Come join women’s football,’” she said. “I was quite taken with that. I was, like, ‘There’s an actual women’s football league?’”

There are 23 teams in the Independent Women’s Football League and 68 in the Women’s Football Alliance.

There is also the Women’s World Football Games, which is an international event that invites women to learn football techniques and at the end of the week play a full-contact game.

Curley, Tódich’iinii born for Kinlichii’nii, recently attended the games for the second time earlier this year.

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Categories: Football

About Author

Pauly Denetclaw

Pauly Denetclaw is Meadow People born for Towering House People. She was raised in Manuelito and Naschitti, New Mexico. She was the co-recipient of the Native American Journalist Association's 2016 Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Reporting. Denetclaw is currently finishing her degree in multimedia journalism from the University of New Mexico - Main. Denetclaw covers a range of topics including genetic research, education, health, social justice issues and small businesses. She loves coffee, writing and being with her family. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Her handle is @pdineclah