WFA finds home in Cottage Grove

The Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) has found a new home in Cottage Grove. The Oregon Cougars have officially relocated from Crow High School to Cottage Grove High School for this season as part of the WFA.

Last season it was located in Crow when it was part of the Women’s Tackle Football League.

“I was recruited, I was at the gym. Somebody said I would be good at football and that I should try out. That was during COVID, so we really didn’t have a season that year. So, we reconvened the next year and formed the Cougars. That was our first inaugural season (with the Women’s Tackle Football League), but now we are with the WFA,” said Cottage Grove resident, Tarissa Caballero. 

After being accepted for a change to the WFA, the Cougars are a new division three expansion team this season in the league, which has divisions WFA Pro League, division two, and division three, with teams located all over the country.

The league is full contact football and is played with many of the same rules that most traditional football associations subscribe to.

“Everyone keeps asking if it’s flag, I’m just like, ‘no,’” Caballero added. The WFA features women ages 16 and up. There are also two players in their 50’s on the roster. Anyone can play “As long as your bodies can take it,” halfback Briana Boyce said.

Cottage Grove residents Caballero, Katharine Alvarez, Anastazia Brandi, Kira Fountain, and Shelby Fountain are all part of the Cougars team that consist of mostly Eugene area residents.

The team practices two-three times a week on average, with games traditionally being played weekends in the spring. Each home game is free for fans to attend, as the team relies heavily on sponsorships, donations, and the players also contribute to the cost each season. The WFA is a nonprofit league.

“A lot of us this year who returned from last year…last year was our first year (with football experience),” said Boyce. “Even though we played last year, most of us are still learning. We watched football, but it’s different playing with all the different rules and regulations. But it is a lot of fun.”

The Cougars played their first home game of the season in Cottage Grove on Saturday against the Portland Fighting Shockwave (a division two team in the WFA). Late in the first quarter, quarterback Macie Reinen looked like she was going to have an opportunity to strike, with a rushing touchdown within the five-yard line. However, a penalty brought the play back and an interception was thrown on the one-yard line a few plays later.

With 3:10 left in the second quarter another penalty killed Reinen and the Cougars chances for a score after a long passing touchdown pass to was taken away. Then In the third quarter a fumble ended a positive drive by the Cougars.

The Cougars defense played well against the Shockwave, holding them scoreless till late in the fourth quarter. Portland went on to win the game 7-0. It was the second consecutive low scoring game for the Cougars. They fell to the Capital Pioneers in Salem, 14-6 on April 9. The Pioneers had a strong season a year ago and finished at the top of the standings.

“I like being able to just take a body and put it on the ground,” said Caballero, who plays on both sides of the line. “I find it super satisfying and it feels good to get my world aggressions out. I’m going for the ball, so I’m sacrificing my body for my team. I love my football family.”

The Cougars’ next game is this Saturday at Cottage Grove High School against the Seattle Spartans.

“I’ve met some amazing women on this team. It’s why I decided to join football,” Boyce added. “I played sports my whole life, I was in law enforcement. After I left law enforcement, it was that camaraderie that I really missed. It’s like a family. You look out for each other. We sacrifice our bodies for each other, and it’s an intense game. That’s what I love, the sisterhood we have on our team.”