The Patriots’ offseason may just be getting going, but the Boston Renegades’ is ending.
On Tuesday night earlier this week, the seven-time Women’s Football Alliance champions (three as the Boston Militia) opened camp ahead of an April 29th season opener at home against D.C. Divas. The Renegades are seeking a fifth straight championship and a seventh straight appearance in the title game.
The success is even more impressive when you consider that most if not all players in the WFA have “regular” jobs and teams aren’t around each other for nearly the amount of time an NFL or even a college team would be. There is a real reliance on one another to study film, work on techniques and get better on your own for the good of the team. To do it at the level Boston has is remarkable.
The good news is that with all the winning, paired with support from the Patriots, an exponential growth in women’s sports and some consistent local media coverage, the Renegades’ brand is growing rapidly, locally and internationally.
“It’s not as if everyone can just drop everything and afford to come to a tryout, but I think our success has helped, continued exposure to the sport and people even knowing we exist as a league and a team,” said owner Molly Goodwin in a phone interview this week. “All of that stuff has built kind of a nice recruiting pipeline…what we’ve really seen is the depth of how good the athletes are that are coming to tryouts now.
“Not only do we have the backing of the Patriots, but we have Ben Brown, who is a recruiting machine. We’re starting to see growth internationally as well. Last year, we had a couple of Finnish players, a British player, a woman from Mexico and we’re expanding on that a little bit. We have interest from players in Brazil and from Spain, and we expect our Finns, our Brit and our Mexican player to all come back. That’s been fun too, to see the sport growing at an international level.”
There have been open tryouts taking place prior to training camp starting as well. The interest level in being a part of New England’s other professional football dynasty is as high as it’s ever been, but this isn’t just a come out and automatically make the team thing though, there’s a legitimate process just like an NFL free agent would have if you’re going to wear the red and black.
“We have some fall training activities that include open tryouts, and then the first few weeks in January from those we have invites to a rookie camp,” Goodwin said. “From that rookie camp, we have invites to our first team practices. We’ll whittle down the roster by the beginning or mid-March. We still have a large group we’ll get down to a roster of about 60 to 65. It’s exciting. We’ve had a really good recruiting year and I think we have a really good, talented group coming in.”
The most important news for the Renegades as camp begins is the health of quarterback Allison Cahill. The greatest player in the history of women’s football – the Tom Brady of the WFA if you will – is back practicing ahead of her 20th season after suffering an Achilles injury before last year’s title game. Chanté Bonds took over and led the team to a title, but if fully healthy, getting Cahill back under center would be an enormous boost to the team’s five-peat hopes.
“She’s back practicing,” said Goodwin.
The standard is now championships or bust for this Renegades franchise, and while it’s never a direct topic of conversation during the year, the expectation is that they will once again be on the Patriots’ team plane heading down to Canton, Ohio for another title game in June.
“It’s definitely not talked about as the next one,” added Goodwin. “We all realize how quickly things can change and if we continue to do the same thing and expect the same results, we’re going to get passed by. The overall team mentality is that this is a new team, a new year and we haven’t won anything yet.
“As an organization, our overriding thing is absolutely, every year we expect to not only be in that final game, but to win it and that we’re going to do everything as an organization from top to bottom to be 1% better every day. We want to consistently be the model franchise that everyone is striving to be. I think that mentality of being the best at all times leads us to expecting to be there in the end.”