Donnelly Sellers demonstrates Team Alberta’s high energy and love for the game

Having served as the Steel team president since 2013, playing on both sides of the line in each subsequent season, working tirelessly in the trenches, the appreciation of the game grows for Donnelly Sellers. Continuously establishing herself as a prominent leader in the gridiron game, Sellers is among the

With roots from her home province of Saskatchewan, there is no question that football is definitely in Donnelly Sellers’ blood. Although Alberta is where she has laid Prairie roots, after graduating from the University of Saskatchewan, the chance to compete at the Canadian national women’s football championships brought her football odyssey full circle.

Taking place at Mosaic Stadium in Saskatoon, the venue held prominent influence for Sellers, having also played there in the 2013 WWCFL title game. Playing with Team Alberta, the outcome would provide Sellers with a landmark moment, personally and athletically, while adding another empowering chapter to the growth of the female game in Alberta and Western Canada.

Initially, Sellers approached the Canadian national women’s championships as a means of extending the season. Among the star players of the WWCFL’s Lethbridge Steel, the postseason did not provide the desired result, therefore, an opportunity to continue and grace the gridiron offered significant interest.

Part of a Team Alberta roster that consisted of a collection of players from numerous rosters throughout the WWCFL’s Western Conference, a patchwork gathering was quickly woven into a strong tapestry, which enlightened all involved. Donning number 64 for Team Alberta, Sellers recounts that any early tensions were quickly dissolved, replaced by mutual respect and a collective feeling of accomplishment,

“At first, it was just a way to expand my season. I love playing, so I was looking for a way to play just a little bit longer. However, after our weekend camp in Calgary – it became so much more than that! The pride, spirit and camaraderie from all of these amazing players and coaches – that were once considered rivals and enemies – was infectious.

I loved every minute of being with this group! I gained pride for my adopted province (I’m originally from Saskatchewan), I gained respect and admiration for my fellow teammates and coaches and I gained a renewed energy for promoting this great sport across the province! As you may know – there were no tryout for Team AB – it was a challenge to get enough players to even put in a team. The cost to play was a lot!

The fact that right from the beginning we worked so well together and were able to take home a medal, made it even more of an achievement! I also need to say how much getting to play on Mosaic Field one more time before they close it meant to me – being from Saskatchewan, I was honored that we got that opportunity!”

Among seven sensational competitors from the Steel that wore the Team Alberta colors, they were not the only members of the franchise part of Lethbridge pride. Sellers was also joined by a pair of assiduous individuals from the Steel’s coaching staff. Among them was offensive coordinator Matt Sentes and Steel head coach Kessie Stefanyk, the first female head coach in WWCFL history.

Working with Team Alberta as a position coach, Stefanyk’s presence was a great source of inspiration. Although she will not be returning as head coach for the 2017 campaign, which also sees legendary coach Jeff Yausie not returning to the Saskatoon Valkyries, the chance to add to her coaching experiences at the Canadian nationals was a fitting way to bow out from an empowering run.

“It was great! The best part of having Steel coaches Kessie and Matt there was that even though they might not be the coach for your position group, they are a familiar face and still looked out for you.

On the field – being able to make quick eye contact and get thumbs up or a “good job” from them boosted my confidence because I always knew they were there for us! Having my teammates there was awesome – familiarity is great – but getting to know the other players from the other Alberta teams (in the WWCFL) was priceless! I will always have great memories!”

When discussing what stood out as the favorite moment of the nationals for Sellers, she incorporates an element of humour, looking beyond the essence of competition. This is somewhat appropriate for Sellers, who also holds talent as a musician. Her harmonious spirit was the perfect addition to a collection of Team Alberta players, who always managed to savor the moment and appreciate all elements of the experience,

“My instinct is to say “bringing home a bronze medal”; however my favorite moment had nothing to do with the competition at all. There was a Team Canada Skills camp on the Saturday, and once it was over, we sat with our respective teams had a cool down and stretch. Most teams were pretty quiet and subdued. Not Team Alberta!

The whole team was singing and laughing and joking around. That was pretty much the attitude for the whole weekend. Although we took our job seriously, we also took the time to have fun and really enjoy every moment!

Every player on Team Alberta WANTED to be there – not because they were lucky enough to be selected, but because they made the effort and commitment. We kind of came in to the competition as a rag-tag group from AB, but I think in the end, we showed everyone that we may like to joke around and we may be a little rough around the edges – but we are fighters, we are competitors and they shouldn’t take us lightly.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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