Not many people can say they’ve been the first in their country to accomplish something. Minnesota School of Business-Plymouth student Lizzy Even will be able to do that on August 17.
Even, a Health Fitness Specialist student, was recently named to the Unites States Australian rules football national team, the USA Freedom, which will compete for the first time for a world championship in the International Cup tournament in Sydney, Australia. It will also be the first time the women will play for an Austrailian rules world championship.
“It’s amazing to be able to be able to go out with the first team. It’s a huge honor, a pleasure and great to be a part of the young history of the sport in the United States,” Even said.
Even was initially drawn to the game by her boyfriend Zach Weaver, who was a member of the men’s national team in 2008. With the local Minnesota Freeze club short on players, Weaver encouraged her to join.After two practices with the Freeze, Even was on the field at the national tournament.
She realized that the sport was for her early on in her first game.
“After I made that first tackle I knew this sport was made for me,” Even said. “There are not many sports a female gets to tackle, and when you finally get to it’s so much fun. I already get a cheap thrill from kicking or hitting someone in my martial arts training, but it’s totally different when you take somebody to the ground.”
Aussie Rules Football, also called footy, resembles a wide-open, faster paced version of rugby. Each team has 18 players on the field at a time. Points are scored by kicking the ball between one of two sets of posts, earning either six points or one point. Games are generally high-scoring affairs and consist of 20-minute quarters.
The sport has picked up steam locally and nationally in a short time. The U.S. national tournament is already the largest national tournament of footy in the world, according to Freeze head coach Dale Williams.
The Freeze women’s team is growing too, as this year will be the first time a full squad of Minnesota-only players will be fielded at the national tournament.
The National Team
Even found out early on that the U.S. was putting together a women’s team for this year’s International Cup, but her chances to make the team were uncertain.
“It seemed like things kept jumping in my way,” Even said. “First I had [Army National Guard] drill the weekend of tryouts, so I couldn’t go, and then I severely sprained my right ankle.”
In place of tryouts, Even submitted a video of herself to the national team coaches, kicking only with her non-dominant left foot.
“I worked on it for a month before I sent it in,” Even said.
Persistence paid off, as Even found out shortly thereafter she had made the team.
The national team convened in Denver in June and will get together before the trip to Australia to practice with each other.
“It will be kind of hard to pull it all together, but a majority of our players are pretty experienced and are veterans in their own right,” Even said.
Of the 30 team members, all but four have played in international competition, and many have played in multiple national tournaments.
Even has played against many of her teammates on the national team in club play and is excited about teaming up with some of the best players in the country.
“To know that I’m playing with other girls with such high skill level is awesome,” Even said.
The U.S. and four other women’s teams will square off for the Cup. Papua New Guinea is the No. 1 seed followed by Australia, Canada, Ireland and the U.S.