Team Alberta’s Tanya Henderson emerges with All-Star status

Having established herself as one of the finest at her position in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, linebacker Tanya Henderson is one of the franchise players for the Edmonton Storm, contributing to its rise to prominence as the powerhouse of the Western Conference. A key element in the Storm capturing consecutive Conference crowns, her efforts reached new heights as she was rewarded with the opportunity to don the Team Alberta jerseys for the 2016 Canadian women’s nationals.

Playing on an Alberta roster that featured traditional competition from the likes of the Calgary Rage, Lethbridge Steel and the Grande Prairie Northern Anarchy, Henderson helped set a leadership tone on defense. Displaying maturity and dedication, lining up beside traditional rivals, working towards a collaborative effort of nullifying opposing offenses, such an effort culminated with a proud pinnacle.

Defeating a determined Team New Brunswick in the bronze medal match, it was a remarkable achievement that served to add another exciting dimension towards Henderson’s remarkable gridiron career. Perhaps the bigger victory was the fact that Alberta has proven to become an influential source of elite talent.

“Finishing on the podium was huge for us as a team, and as players. Women’s Football in Alberta is on the rise, and we really needed to come out and give a good showing at a national event like this.

Obviously as a team we had our goals set on Gold, although we fell short of that, we rallied around each other and pushed hard to make sure we walked away with a medal. I think the amazing level of talent that was showcased by my team is a true testament that women’s football in Alberta is up and coming, and within the next few years we are going to be a forced to be reckoned with.”

Considering that the Storm have appeared in consecutive WWCFL championship games, those postseason forays were invaluable means of obtaining experience, only helping to enhance Henderson’s growing reputation as a prime-time player. Bringing exceptional instincts to the gridiron, her constant contributions always give her team an opportunity to compete, while such athletic proficiency naturally motivate her teammates to elevate their own game.

Such effort did not go unnoticed, as Henderson’s tireless efforts culminated by earning a well-deserved place on the 2016 Canadian National All-Star Team. With every reason to be proud of her growing success, Henderson works towards remaining humble, quick to recognize that a team effort remains at the core of any achievement on the gridiron,

“Being named to the National All-Star was confirmation that all the time and hard work spent on the field and in the gym the past four years has paid off. I have always had a terrible habit of being really hard on myself and second guessing my talent, so this was a huge confidence booster for me.

As surprising and humbling as it was that I was noticed, I really did not expect anything less from myself. You are never sure in these types of tournaments whether you are doing the right things to make yourself stand out, but I feel like I had a fantastic showing and am very proud of myself and of course my team.

I would not have been able to play the games at the level I did, if it wasn’t for our amazing coaching staff from Team Alberta, as well as my coaches from the Edmonton Storm.

Equally, stepping on the field with such an amazing and hungry group of ladies was a huge part of mine and my team’s success. It also means the world to me to see another Edmonton Storm player – Emma – also make the roster. I like to think I am a leader, however I am more of a quiet leader. I lead with integrity, passion, and performing to the best of my abilities at all times, in hopes that will inspire others to do the same.”

Obtaining an invitation to the next round of tryouts for Team Canada, to be held in December 2016, Henderson’s talents truly shone at the Nationals, serving as a springboard towards further ambitions. Undoubtedly, Henderson’s goal is one that is shared collectively by all players at tryouts, the dream of donning Canada’s colors on the world’s biggest stage.

As Canada has enjoyed a podium finish at the first two editions of the IFAF Women’s World Championships, it is a standard that looks to be maintained at the upcoming Worlds in 2017. While the game is still undergoing modest beginnings, devoted players like Henderson are helping elevate it to unprecedented heights. As Henderson is among a group of dynamic women creating history every time that they grace the gridiron, testament to a strong love of the game, the dream of playing for Team Canada grows ever closer into becoming a hopeful reality.

“Being named to Team Canada would be a dream come true for me. It has been the goal I have had in mind since I put my first set of pads on. Before football, as much as I wanted to have the opportunity to represent our amazing country, I never thought it would be something I would truly have the chance to do.

Anytime you can play on an All-Star team, it is a huge accomplishment. Yet, being able to represent my country at an international tournament and identified as one of the top players in the country at my position would be out of this world. I have worked extremely hard both on and off the field, and I am constantly striving to be better than I was the year before. I hope that by continuing on the path I am on, I can make my dreams come true and wear that number 32 jersey representing Canada.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Photo credit: Living Light Fine Art Photography

 

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