The Denver Broncos probably come to mind when you hear the words football and Colorado in the same sentence. But if you love football, there’s another Denver-based professional football team you need to know about: the Denver Bandits. And it just so happens that Robinson & Henry Call Center Specialist Brittany Morgan plays Defensive Tackle for the Bandits.
The Denver Bandits are part of the Women’s National Football Conference (WNFC). This full-tackle football team just finished an undefeated season, and they’re headed to the 2022 playoffs in San Diego, California. (Congratulations!) The Bandits’ first playoff game is against the Las Vegas Silver Stars on June 9. You can stream the games for free at WNFC.com or on VYRE Sports.
When the R&H Marketing Team got wind of Brittany’s playing for a professional football team, we knew we had to share it with everyone else because, let’s be honest, this is pretty cool.
Creating a Foundation
As far back as Brittany can remember, sports have been a mainstay in her life.
“From my earliest memories, I have always loved sports,” she said.
Brittany recalls sitting back with her dad and turning on the game. Depending on the season, they watched football, hockey, baseball, and bowling. It wasn’t long before Brittany was playing football with the boys on her street, and sports became her go-to outlet for life’s challenges.
“It was my therapy; I dealt with being bullied and that was my way of showing off instead of fighting,” she said.
When it was time for Brittany to enter high school, she was disappointed to learn she would not be playing football any longer – at least not for her high school team.
The year Brittany became eligible to play high school football, her school stopped offering it for girls because there were too few other schools to compete against. So, Brittany played basketball and bowled instead.
“Put Me in the Game, Coach”
Times have changed for young women like Brittany since the early 2000s. Today, more Colorado high school girls than ever before are playing football. In fact, scores of females are donning helmets and running onto the gridiron with their male teammates on crisp Friday nights in the fall.
For the 2018-19 season, 2,604 females across the country played tackle football. One-hundred-fifty-eight of those girls were right here in Colorado, according to the most recent data tracked by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
“To be able to see girls being able to participate in playing football means so much. I get emotional because I know that women had to fight to get things like this to happen,” Brittany said. “If girls did want to play back then, you really had to fight to get involved or to get on a boys team. Now there are leagues for these types of things and it shows that girls and women alike can do anything.”
15 Years Later
Just because Brittany didn’t get to play high school football didn’t mean she lost her love for the game. She continued to watch college ball on Saturday and pro ball on Sunday and Monday nights (she still does).
But in 2021, while she was nursing a knee injury from playing basketball, a friend told her about a women’s, full-tackle professional football league with a team here in Denver.
“I went to a fundraiser for the team, and the coach saw me and told me that tryouts were coming up and that he wanted me to play.”
This is where you expect to read and the rest is history. But, come on, that’s not exactly how a great story evolves, is it?
Wrestling Her Own Doubts
Despite the coach’s encouragement, Brittany had some reservations. At the age of 30, she worried about whether playing full-tackle football was the best idea. What if she got injured or aggravated old ones? What about the other players? Were they all young? Would she be the oldest on the team?
These kinds of questions and insecurities whirled through Brittany’s mind like the spin on a perfectly thrown pigskin. She resolved she “wasn’t going to go to the tryouts.”
Sometimes, though, passion trumps doubt and reason. Before long, Brittany couldn’t justify why she should bench the idea of playing football. So she didn’t.
Admittedly, tryouts were tough. It involved multiple days and scouting assignments to determine which women were right for the team and for what positions.
“I never thought this was something that I could ever do,” Brittany said. But “it has helped me become more active and find friends that are becoming family.
Defense, Defense, Defense!
Brittany has always loved football’s defensive game. It’s what she has paid attention to most while watching football on TV.
“I always wanted to play on defense, and now I have my chance, and [it’s a ] dream come true,” she said.
The defensive tackle – the position Brittany plays – is generally the most formidable player on the team. What the position requires of the player is nothing short of paradoxical. The player must be strong and solidly built yet quick and nimble.
If you aren’t familiar with American football, in short, defensive tackles break through the offensive line and rush the passer.
“I have always been super tough, so being able to tackle and make a difference for the team is a big rush,” Brittany said.
Toughness and invincibility, though, are not one and the same. Brittany and some of her teammates have experienced their share of injuries. Brittany suffered a hairline rib fracture. Another player took a gruesome hit to the back of her legs. Fortunately, the injuries weren’t too severe.
Getting Out the Word
You’re not alone if you didn’t know there is a women’s professional football league, but Brittany is single-handedly trying to make sure everyone knows about it.
“This is just the start, and more barriers are being broken down when it comes to football,” she said.
Currently, players like Brittany aren’t paid a salary. They play because they love the game and the comradery. The Women’s National Football Conference is pushing to have this be a paid league.
“Someday soon this will happen so women after me can do what they love,” Brittany said.