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Women's pro football coming to Pittsburgh

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, March 14, 2002

The Steelers won't be the only member of an NFL in town come 2003.

Pittsburgh has been selected as an expansion city for a football team for women. The Pittsburgh Passion will be part of the National Women's Football League and will kick off their season in 2003. The Rochester Raptors also will begin play in 2003.

"This is a full-contact league," said Debby Lening, vice president of marketing and media for the league out of Nashville. "Pittsburgh was chosen because the city has shown a lot of interest in it. We feel like this was a good choice for a team."

There currently are 21 teams in the NWFL. That number has grown from 10 in its inaugural season two years ago. The league is open for women 18 and older who have health insurance. Tryouts for the Passion will be from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 30 at the YMCA in Robinson Township. This is a first in a series of tryouts. The others will be announced at a later date. The number of players on the roster varies from 40 to 60. The NWFL has named John Stolec as the Passion's coach, but is looking for an owner. The NWFL will have representatives at the tryouts to answer questions about ownership.

The Passion will play exhibition games this season which runs April through July. They will compete in a full season the next year.

Women who are interested are not required to know the game. They can be taught the rules and what they need to do in terms of conditioning. The league is open to women from all professions. There is a female reverend on one team and a mother/daughter duo on another. A 57-year-old plays on one of the squads.

The downfall is they play for free.

"Right now, they aren't making any money," Lening said. "They work full time and play for the love of the game. But someday, we hope they can quit their full-time jobs and be able to pay them."

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