Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thee Toledo Reign Celebrates Our All-Americans!

On the eve of the WFA Championship Weekend in Chicago, IL, Thee Toledo Reign would like to recognize and celebrate the All-American selections for the 2014 season.

#25 Brianna "Bugg" Patman - Fullback - 1st Team

Brianna Patman earned two personal honors for the first time this season – selection as a captain for Thee Toledo Reign and a First Team All-American selection.  The 5'3” 168 pound running back joined the Reign in 2010 and immediately became a staple of Reign football.  Patman received her nickname “Bugg” when she first joined the Reign.  “Coach Mitchi (Collette) saw me run and said I was going to bug the other team every time I was on the field” Patman recalls.  “The name just stuck.”

The 25 year old from Detroit, Michigan made a personal choice to join the Reign instead of women's football teams located in her home town.  “My friend was playing for the Reign and said I should check it out.”  Football was always a love for Patman, having played in powder puff games while attending Southfield High School in Southfield, Michigan.  In addition to football, Patman played basketball and softball in high school and upon graduation enrolled at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.  While attending BGSU Patman played intramural basketball.  Outside of football, basketball is one of Patman's favorite hobbies.

On the field Patman has been a force, both offensively and defensively.  This season alone Patman gained 1,043  all-purpose yards and eight total touchdowns.  Patman's career numbers are eye-popping: 854 yards rushing, 454 yards receiving, 115 ½ tackles (20 for loss), 7 interceptions, 2,146 all-purpose yards and 14 total touchdowns.  Even before Patman put up career highs in carries, rushing yards and total touchdowns this season she had earned the trust and respect of her teammates as a true leader on this team.  This led to her proudest football-related accomplishment to date when she was selected as the Veteran Captain for Thee Toledo Reign.

During the day, Patman is a Site Coordinator for after school programs in Pontiac, Michigan.  She is constantly working to provide guidance to youth in the Pontiac area while always fighting for equality in all areas.  When asked for any advice to women considering playing football she hopes more women take the challenge and offers encouragement and support.

“Always work hard and go after whatever you want!”

#9 Jacki Clark - Quarterback - 2nd Team

At the end of the 2011 season, quarterback Jacki Clark stepped away from women's football.  After two years away from the game the 43-year-old signal caller returned to the field and helped guide Thee Toledo Reign to the second playoff berth in three seasons and earned a second team All-American nomination.

Jacki is the definition of a lifelong athlete.  As a student at Camden-Frontier High School in Camden, Michigan Clark was a 4-time state champion in track while also participating in basketball, volleyball and softball.  While attending Siena Heights University Clark was an All-American in Track while earning a B.A. In Business Ed/Health/PE and a M.A. In Educational Leadership.

At 5'6” and 140 pounds Clark is not afraid to move the ball with her legs, spending the 2010 season as the Reign's primary running back.  However, Clark's true calling was under center, achieving career highs in completions (54), yards (623) and touchdowns (9).  It's no wonder why the Reign's Offensive Captain considers the 2014 season her proudest football-related accomplishment.

“Being able to step into somewhat of a coaching role for our rookies while still performing as a quarterback and leader on the field was very fulfilling.  I'm very proud that I could return to the game and read defenses and see the field more accurately than ever before.”

Off the field Jacki is currently working as quality control for a chip sealing company.  Her hobbies include physical fitness, spending time with her three sons and watching and playing various sports.

Clark will take many memories with her from her time with the Reign.  “Having my children working the sidelines during my games will always be a special memory for me.  The history and involvement with the Toledo Troopers, and being able to share my last game with Coach Mitchi (Collette).  She has taught me so much about the history of women's football, the game itself, and how to be an effective mentor.  I will truly miss bonding on the field with all my teammates.”

As she closes her football career Jacki has a very encouraging message for any women interested in chasing their football dreams.  “If you love the game, seek out a local team.  Watch them play, get to know the players and coaches, and give it a shot.  It truly is for all types and ages of women.  You will learn more than just about football and you will create a special bond with a great group of women.”

#10 Barb "3G" Willobee - Wide Receiver - 2nd Team

Barb Willobee burst onto the women's football scene in 2014 and the Reign rookie could be one of the league's best kept secrets.  Towering over many of her opponents, the 5'10” 145 pound wide receiver presents a matchup nightmare for defenses trying to neutralize her, a big reason she received a Second Team All-American nomination in her first year of organized football.

The 27 year old from Lake Orion, Michigan has an extensive athletic background, participating in basketball and soccer while attending Southfield High School in Southfield, Michigan.  She continued her basketball career at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan where her team won a NCAA Division II National Championship in 20005-06.

Willobee was introduced to the Reign by her close friend and fellow All-American nominee Brianna “Bugg” Patman.  She was dubbed “3G” by her teammates early in the season.  “It's short for Go-Go-Gadget, which I got because I could reach nearly anything” she recalls.  From the first practice coaches could see that with her athletic ability and rare range and wingspan that she could be a true difference maker.  “I've always enjoyed playing football and I wanted to see how my skills would hold up in a competitive setting.”  It didn't take long to put those skills on display as she scored her first touchdown on a 75-yard reception in the season opener against the Derby City Dymanite.  Willobee finished the season leading all Reign receivers with 16 receptions, 244 yards and three touchdowns.

Outside of football Barb is a product engineer for Chrysler, working on Mopar interior Jeep accessories.  She is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys camping, hiking, mountain biking and snowboarding.  After her rookie season Barb feels any women who are interested in trying out tackle football should follow their dreams.

“Do it!! As a female engineer I spend a lot of time holding my own with the guys at something they think they are dominate in. The confidence and self-worth that comes from hard work and making a name for yourself in an area you aren't expected to is irreplaceable. Football is now another one of those outlets. It can be for you too.”

#53 Brandi Rizer - Defensive Tackle - 2nd Team

Brandi Rizer is an excellent example of never giving up on your goals and dreams.  At 21 years old Rizer tried out for the Columbus Comets but did not make the team.  Ten years later the defensive tackle from Marysville, Ohio earned a Second-Team All-American nomination playing for Thee Toledo Reign.
At 5'9” and 245 pounds Brandi is a physical presence in the middle of the Reign defense, frequently taking on multiple blockers and making the offense pay when trying to block her one-on-one.  Brandi finished the season with 19 tackles, 8 for loss and 2 fumble recoveries.

Brandi attended Westland High School in Galloway, Ohio and after graduation enrolled at Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio.  Unlike many of her Reign teammates Brandi was not able to participate in sports through school.  “I decided to play women's football because I never got to play sports growing up and I always wanted to play, especially football in high school” Brandi recalls.  She credits Reign veteran Sandi Bowen for her tireless recruiting efforts.  “Sandi tried to recruit me at Toledo Pride in 2012 and we ran into each other at another function.  After getting together with her and some other Reign teammates I decided to try out and it was the best decision I've ever made.”

When she is not working as a Direct Care Provider in the Northwest Ohio area, Brandi enjoys fishing, scrapbooking and geocaching.  In addition to being selected as a Second-Team All-American, Brandi experienced another moment of pride when she met former members of the Toledo Troopers, the team that dominated the women's football world in the 1970's.  “Seeing them cheering us on in the stands and getting first-hand advice from amazing women I look up to is something I'll never forget.”

When asked what she would share with women thinking of playing football, Brandi encouraged anyone to follow her example and never give up.  “You can do anything you put your mind to.  Never doubt yourself and never tell yourself that you can't because you can.  Dreams can come true, and sometimes you'll discover dreams you never even knew you had.”

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