Women's Professional Football League
The WPFL logo
|No. of teams||1|
|Most recent champion(s)||So Cal Scorpions|
The Women's Professional Football League (WPFL) was the original and longest operating women's professional American football league in the United States. With teams across the United States, the WPFL had its first game in 1999 with just two original teams: the Lake Michigan Minx and the Minnesota Vixens. Fifteen teams nationwide competed for the championship in 2006.
The league had been recognized in national media campaigns, in the book Atta Girl, and even had a team (the New England Storm) that had a commercial relationship with an NFL team, the New England Patriots.
In the early 1960s, many women thought that sports in the US were sexist and needed to shift in another direction, moving beyond the stereotype that women were passive. This sentiment formed the background for the women's football league that was started in order to prove that women had the power to do what men did, with hopes that people would enjoy women's football as much as they did men's. In 1965, the name changed to its WPFL incarnation. Since there were no college women's football teams in the US, most of their athletes came from basketball, rugby, and international football (soccer). After a few years, the sport began to fade.
In 1999 two businessmen, Carter Turner and Terry Sullivan, decided to research the feasibility of a professional women’s football league by gathering together top female athletes into two teams and playing an exhibition game in front of an audience. The game between the Lake Michigan Minx and the Minnesota Vixens at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota was a success and turned into a six game exhibition tour across the country dubbed the “No Limits” Barnstorming Tour.
The success of the Barnstorming Tour led to the first official WPFL season in 2000 with 11 teams competing nationwide. This first season ended with some turmoil however; the regular season was shortened by several games, players were not given their promised $100 per-game salaries, and there were allegations regarding instability with some of the league's financial backers.
The WPFL rebounded the next year completing the 2001 season after several organizational changes. Notable changes included the departure of founders Sullivan and Turner (Turner then founded the WAFL; restructure of the league by several WPFL team owners: Melissa Korpacz - New England Storm, Robin Howington - Houston Energy, and Donna Roebuck and Dee Kennamer - Austin Rage; changes to player/team compensation; and the moving of the start of the season from fall to summer.
Fifteen teams competed in the 2006 WPFL season. The league has hundreds of players and is growing, but the league is more "semi-pro" as none of the athletes earn enough money playing football to make a living. However, the league still refers to them as professional athletes. Other leagues that connect to women's football include the United Football League, the Independent Women's Football League, the National Women's Football Association and the Women's Football League. Unfortunately, these individual leagues do not see eye-to-eye, so the possibility of forming one unified league is not likely.
Three-fourths of the teams that had played in the WPFL for the 2007 season have since defected to other leagues to begin play in 2009; many of them have moved to the IWFL, although some moved to the NWFA and a few others have joined the upstart Women's Football Alliance. Only two currently remain in the league, and as such, the league's future with so few teams would be in obvious jeopardy.
Because of the efforts of these organizations, some women's teams were allowed to play in some of the million-dollar domes and arenas originally built for men's teams. Noted stadiums have included the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, and some of the highly facilitated places in Detroit, Michigan.
- Dayton Rebellion
- Colorado Valkyries (2000 season only)
- New York Galaxy (2000 season only)
- Albany Ambush (withdrew from 2006 schedule)
- Tulsa Black Widows (withdrew from 2006 schedule)
- Austin Rage (withdrew from 2003 schedule)
- New England Storm
- Tampa Bay Tempest
- Pacific Blast (withdrew from 2003 schedule)
- Missouri Prowlers (folded)
- Florida Stingrays (folded)
- Wisconsin Riveters (expelled)
- Syracuse Sting 2001-2004
- Delaware Griffins (joined IWFL)
- Arizona Caliente
- Georgia Gladiators
- Lake Michigan Minx
- Long Beach Aftershock
- San Francisco Stingrays
- New York Dazzles
- Northern Ice
- New England Intensity (joined IWFL)
- Carolina Queens (joined IWFL)
- Cape Fear Thunder (joined IWFL)
- Connecticut Cyclones (joined IWFL, now in WFA)
- Dallas Diamonds (joined IWFL)
- Las Vegas Showgirlz (joined IWFL, now in WFA))
- Wisconsin Wolves (joined IWFL)
- Los Angeles Amazons (joined NWFA, now in IWFL)
- Minnesota Vixen (joined NWFA, now in IWFL)
- New Jersey Titans (joined NWFA, now in WFA))
- New York Nemesis (joined NWFA, now in IWFL)
- Empire State Roar (joined WFA)
- Indiana Speed (joined WFA)
- Thee Toledo Reign (joined WFA)
- Houston Energy (joined IWFL)
- Kentucky Valkyries (joined WFA)
- So Cal Scorpions (joined IWFL, now in WFA)
- New Mexico Burn (folded)
|1999||Lake Michigan Minx||30-27||Minnesota Vixens|
|2000||Houston Energy||39-7||New England Storm|
|2001||Houston Energy||47-14||Austin Rage|
|2002||Houston Energy||56-7||Wisconsin Riveters|
|2003||Northern Ice||53-12||Florida Stingrays|
|2004||Dallas Diamonds||68-13||Northern Ice|
|2005||Dallas Diamonds||61-8||New York Dazzles|
|2006||Dallas Diamonds||34-27||Houston Energy|
|2007||SoCal Scorpions||14-7||Houston Energy|
- Independent Women's Football League (IWFL)
- National Women's Football Association
- Women's American Football League (WAFL)
- American Football Women's League (AWFL)
- List of leagues of American football
- A League of Their Own, page 1 - News - Village Voice - Village Voice
- P.O.V. - True-Hearted Vixens . The Film | PBS
- NHL Football - Women’s Professional Football League – NFL for women - News by Girls Talk Sports
- Campus cop tackles women's pro football - MIT News Office
- Orlando Weekly - Features Story - Stumbling, Bumbling, Tumbling
- Women's football: Ready for prime time? | Salon People
- In this league it is okay to throw like a girl | Feb 9, 2001