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Calgary Rage spoil Edmonton Storm home-opener

The Edmonton Storm play can't miss football at Larry Olexiuk Field in St. Albert.
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Jaimie Braybrook made her first career start at running back for the Storm's home opener against the Calgary Rage on June 4. The Rage struggled to contain Braybrooks' speed as she broke many tackles. JACK FARRELL/St. Albert Gazette

The Storm, a competitive tackle football team who play in the Western Women's Canadian Football League (WWCFL), played their home opener against the Calgary Rage on Saturday, June 4 at Larry Olexiuk Field in Riel Park. 

Despite the Storm's home-field advantage, Calgary took home the victory in a nail-biting match that could've gone either way. 

The final score was 27-17 for the Rage. It was the Storm's first loss after winning two straight to start the season.

Edmonton was missing a key offensive player for Saturday's game as their starting running back, Brenna Bouchard, sat out due to injury. 

In Bouchard's place, making her first career start at running back, was Jaimie Braybrook.

In just her second-ever season of football, Braybrook, who usually plays linebacker, had a monstrous game.

Braybrook racked up over 120 rushing yards, including a 46-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that put the Storm up 14-13 right before halftime. Braybrook also caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from the Storm's quarterback Aria McGowan in the first quarter.

Calgary didn't waste any time after halftime as the Rage scored a touchdown on their first drive, followed by a successful two-point conversion after the touchdown to put them up 21-14. 

The Storm had some help on their next drive as multiple Calgary penalties put the Storm in field-goal range allowing Edmonton to score an easy three points. 

After both teams went two-and-out on their next drives, the Storm were put in excellent field position as McGowan intercepted a pass from Calgary's quarterback Erin Walton. However, the Storm weren't able to capitalize as McGowan threw back-to-back incomplete passes to end the third quarter.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Walton threw a 96-yard touchdown pass to Jules Heavenor putting the game out of the Storm's reach. The Rage played lock-down defense for the rest of the game, never giving Edmonton a chance to see the end zone.

In the final minute of the game, Braybrook went down with an injury but was able to walk-off the field.

In an interview, Braybrook said she was feeling sore but the injury was minor. 

When asked whether she preferred playing offense or defense, Braybrook said although she liked both, playing on the offense is new for her.

“My first season I really only played linebacker and then I played a little bit of slot back but I was primarily defensive-focused because I played rugby before that so tackling was kind of my thing," she said. 

"We have quite a few players that can play a lot of different spots and make a big impact."

Putting in the work

The WWCFL, which formed in 2011, is a seven-team league encompassing Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The Storm have won the western conference championship three times, but have yet to be league champions.

The teams are financed through sponsorships, fundraisers, and the players themselves. Leading up to the 2022 season, the Storm organized a bottle drive and comedy show to raise money for equipment and travel expenses.

“The amount of work these girls have put into being on the field is really impressive and the hours that they’ve put into training is quite impressive," Braybrook said. 

"Even just the fact that they’re out there; we have women with kids that come out and they’re practicing twice a week or three times a week and playing games," she said, adding, "they’re really inspiring to girls in our community.”

Braybrook, who played rugby before joining the Storm, is a dental hygienist by profession. She also teaches at the University of Alberta.

The Storm will take on the Lethbridge Steel at Larry Olexiuk Field on June 11 for their last regular season game.

The game starts at 1:00 p.m., and tickets are $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for youth between 13 and 17, and free for kids 12 and under. 

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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