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Gridiron Girls Set to Kick Off,Just Not in City

Despite a recent ownership change and a carousel of head coaches, Richmond's first full-contact women's pro football team is on schedule to start games this spring — even if it won't be playing any home games.

Jamal Moseley, an entrepreneur from Washington, D.C., took over the team last year. He recently quit, but league officials say his departure shouldn't derail the team's plans to begin play in a developmental league.

The team's head coach, Talmech "Wolf" Williams, says he's picking up the $35,000 franchise tag. "I was baffled when I found out," he says of Mosley's decision to quit the team. "I haven't heard from him since."

Williams, a former linebacker at Rutgers University and director of football at U-Turn Sports Performance Academy in Henrico County, says he found out that Jamal was leaving five to six weeks ago through an e-mail.

Williams says he attempted to contact Mosley several times by phone, but Mosley didn't return his calls. Catherine Masters, president of the Women's Football Association, says that Mosley, who lives in Washington, decided he couldn't run or market the team effectively from a distance. Style's attempts to reach Mosley were unsuccessful.

"I have to support the ladies who have been working since April or May of last year. To pick up the franchise was something I felt was the right thing to do," Williams says. This season, Williams says, the team will play only three road games — in Baltimore; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Bristol, Tenn. — and begin a full schedule next year.

Because of financial constraints, Williams is asking players to pay $425 as an investment in next year, with a promise that players will receive $100 per game and have a shot at playing a full eight-game schedule in 2008.

Even with the all the changes, Masters remains confident that Richmond is a good market for women's football. "We decided to put a team in Richmond nine months to a year ago" Masters says, explaining that Richmond is geographically a good fit on the East Coast, within a few hours of teams in Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

The four home games in 2008 are slated to be played at Huguenot High School on Forest Hill Road, beginning sometime next March or April. Williams also plans to approach the Richmond Sports Backers about using Sports Backers Stadium behind The Diamond off Hermitage Road.

While the Spirit doesn't hit the gridiron in Richmond until May 2008, it will hit the cobblestones March 31. As Williams' first marketing effort, Players plan to brave the Monument Avenue 10K as a team. The Spirit will also team with the YMCA GirlForce, a special fitness initiative. S

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