After learning the basics about the Lingerie Football League, I started wondering, "who are the women playing in this league?" So, I decided to chat with Kelly Campbell, #3 for the Baltimore Charm, to get an insider's take on the LFL. Kelly is not only a corner/defensive back for the Charm, but she is also the team's Marketing Manager.
Tamara: Have you always been a football fan? Are you a fan of the NFL? If so, who’s your team?
Kelly: Yes, I was bred to be a lover of all sports, especially football. Born and raised a Dallas Cowboy fan. My first cheerleading outfit was Cowboys.
Tamara: Did you play sports growing up?
Kelly: Yes I started dancing at age 4, cheering at age 7, recreationally and competitively, and I continued those through college. I also played baseball, soccer, gymnastics and lacrosse and studied karate and judo. My mom teaches Physical Education And Health so I am well versed in almost every sport as well.
Tamara: Let’s talk about the name of the league—Lingerie Football League. Do you think people think it’s a joke when you have Lingerie in the name? Why not Womens Football League or something less provocative? Or was that the goal?
Kelly: I would like to believe that it positively sparks an interest. However, knowing our society, I am sure the initial image and perception is a negative one. Until people come see us play or have a conversation with us, they judge. It’s human nature. Lingerie is the marketing tool. There is a women’s football league where they play in full pads; the International Women’s Football League (IWFL). One of my former teammates actually played for the LFL and the IWFL. To be honest, they don’t have a fan base, and they pay to play. We have fans all over the world! It’s hard not to get caught up in the name, but the lingerie part isn’t even acknowledged by us until game day.
Tamara: What is the one misconception about the League that you would like to clear up?
Kelly: One? There are so many! This is REAL football. It’s not powder-puff or flag. Its full contact. We are not in it for the fame or the money like some NFL players. We are here to play football because we are passionate about it. We all have full-time jobs and families. About 90% of us are college-educated, and not just college, former D1 athletes. We are smart, we train HARD and we just love football.
Tamara: Tell me about the uniforms. Are there ever wardrobe malfunctions during the game?
Kelly: The uniforms could be compared to those of the NFL cheerleaders, Olympic track runners, professional dancers, or beach volley-ball; or just more material than a bikini. It is a “bra” looking top, and boy shorts; but sporty. Last year, the games were shown a week behind schedule to avoid wardrobe malfunctions. It is a big penalty to intentionally remove the uniform during play. We only wear uniforms on game day and there is no practice uniform, so it is rare to have it in practice, but could happen in a game!
Tamara: So, how long have you been with the Baltimore Charm?
Kelly: Since the very first announcement in March of 2010.
Tamara: Why did you decide to try out?
Kelly: I was looking for something new and exciting post-college. I had lost my passion for cheerleading, but wanted to continue in athletics. My friend from PSU played for the Philly Passion and when Baltimore was getting a team she said I would be perfect for it.
Tamara: How many women tried out the first season? Was there a lot of interest?
Kelly: At the very first May 2010 tryout there were 100 women. Then again in July 2010, another 100. We held a third round in October 2010 and another 30 or so came out. Based on that, yes, there has been a large interest from the beginning.
Tamara: How does the Baltimore Charm fit into your personal and work life? Is it a big time commitment?
Kelly: Being part of the Charm is a HUGE commitment. We always tell the new ladies when they first come out that this is serious and be prepared to give up weekends and some weeknights. We practice both days of the weekend or have a 2-a-day once a weekend. I also train outside of practice. In addition, my teammate Brittany and I are the Marketing Managers for the Charm, so we set up all the promotions and appearances. That in itself is a part-time job. We mandate that each player attends a minimum of two promotional appearances a month. Playing is the most important part and why we all join, but promotions come with the territory and are a requirement.
Tamara: How many games do you have on your schedule this season?
Kelly: We only have 4 regular season games, 2 home, 2 away, but including playoffs and the Lingerie Bowl, we like to say 6! There are 12 teams, 6 in each conference and you only play in your conference (East or West). This is why there is such a small schedule.
Tamara: Do you ladies play rough? Are there lots of injuries in the league? Have you ever suffered a serious injury?
Kelly: Since we are only protected by shoulder pads and a helmet, it gets really rough. There are a lot of shoulder, knee and head injuries, just like regular football. We do wear knee and elbow pads too because of the turf. There is a lot of turf burn! I actually had a major injury during my sophomore year of high school. I shattered my left tibia and it took 4 surgeries and 2 blood transfusions to get me back. I have a titanium ankle as a result; 7 screws and a plate!
Tamara: Is there a lot of trash talk on the field?
Kelly: Once we get going in practice, we can get heated. During the games, definitely. It gets out of hand sometimes and leads to physical altercations. Girls are catty; it is part of the game.
Tamara: What’s the relationship like amongst your teammates? Are you a close group?
Kelly: Twenty-plus women together may not always work, especially when you are constantly competing for that starting position. However, we are a close group. We are family. We hang out outside of practice, we talk all the time in a group chat we set up and we are always texting or emailing. We have a common goal – WIN. That can take you far together if you stay on the same page.
Tamara: Who are LFL fans and specifically the Baltimore Charm fans? Demographics?
Kelly: We have a wide range of fans! Men age 18-50 would be our target demographic, but really it is for anyone who is a lover of athletics and football.
Tamara: If I wanted to try out for the Baltimore Charm next season, what advice would you give me?
Kelly: Do your research! Come to the games, watch the games on MTV2 or online. Learn some basic football techniques. Get in shape. Come to a practice or conditioning session and see if this is something you think you could handle year round. If you seriously think you can be hit and deliver a hit, come out. If you are looking to get rich and famous, this is not for you.
Tamara: What does the LFL mean to you?
Kelly: Being a part of the LFL and Charm has transformed me. Before I was just a dancer or just a cheerleader, but now I’m an athlete. That word means so much. Learning the game of football has increased my mental capacity and tolerance. Training/conditioning has changed my lifestyle, diet, posture, confidence, and outlook on life. I get to be two people every day and I love it. It has provided me with a new passion, something to put all of my extra energy and focus into or take my frustrations out on. I have made so many friends and connections. Every practice or training session is challenging. I found a personal trainer (and program) who trains both of my brothers as well. He has changed us. I found a best friend, teammate, trainer and so much more in Brittany. If it ended tomorrow, it would have all been worth it because the things and people that came along with it will seriously be with me forever.
Tamara: Why should I tune in to MTV2 this season to watch the LFL?
Kelly: As I mentioned before, we play simply for the love of the game. Who doesn’t want to watch that? You will be impressed with the talent, skill and pure athleticism of these women. I would like to also point out that we hit as hard as men, the same ratio of body size to our opponents, and we wear less padding and have less penalty calls. It is an intense and fast game. The league is just picking up, but it is going to get bigger as the commissioner enters Canada and Australia next year.