Although football is recognized as a male dominated sport, women like Tatyhana Blaise are starting to change that view.
Attending Wayne State University, Tatyhana is a 25-year-old running back for the Detroit Dark Angels. Originally football wasn’t a focus of hers; throughout high school she played basketball and volleyball. She took an interest in the sport a few years ago and decided to give it a try.
“I was playing Madden with some friends who were trying to teach me how to play, but I didn’t understand it. That is when I became interested in learning the sport because I love sports,” says Blaise.
But it wasn’t really until Tatyhana decided she wanted to become a sports journalist that led her to actually want to learn how to play football.
“I was almost given the opportunity to work for ESPN, but I fell short after I failed the analyst exam. I didn’t know everything there was to know about the five major sports— basketball, baseball, golf, hockey, and football.”
Tatyhana later learned about the Women’s Football Alliance and the Detroit Dark Angels through a teammate while she was working out at the gym.
“She just so happen to catch me lifting and she approached me about playing. I asked her if it was with men and she told me that it was an all-women league and proceeded to tell me about it, but I was sold already based on my competitive nature and eagerness to learn the game.”
Soon after, Tatyhana was sponsored onto the Dark Angels by various colleagues from the companies that employ her. Due to it being individuals who sponsor her, names or any additional information could not be disclosed.
Since being a part of the team Tatyhana has played in multiple positions and has been awarded many titles.
“My primary position is running back, however, I’ve played slot receiver, wide receiver, kick returner, punt returner, cornerback, free safety and defensive end,” says Blaise.
“I have also broken the franchise record by being the first RB to rush over 1,000 yards in a single season and made first team All-American for two years in a row.”
Based on her and many other women’s involvement in football, Tatyhana believes the sport is becoming more diverse and could possibly be as big as the NFL one day.
“The sport is definitely evolving. The WFA is the largest women’s football league in the country. When I tell people that I play football, women are excited to know, but men are shocked to hear that an attractive woman plays such a physically demanding sport and don’t believe it unless they see it.”
In response to men and women who still disagree that football can be a female sport, Tatyhana says that it shows their lack of knowledge to the way the game is transforming and are blinded because they are used to seeing it as a man’s sport.
“I laugh because that shows how little they know about the league I play in and the waves we are making in not just the NFL, but the entire sports industry.”
“We have women who are coaching in the NFL from our league, female referees now, we compete against other countries around the world every three years for the IFAF Women’s World Championship title, and we have camps hosted by NFL organizations now.”
But that’s only a handful of the gains that female athletes have achieved in recent times.
“There are even some women who are just as good as some of the men who play in the league now, but because we live in a society where people can’t seem to see pass the fact that we are women, they miss out on giving us a chance to show the world how good we really are and how intense and exciting our games can be,” says Blaise.
“We playfully padded 11 on 11 outside, which is the only difference between the WFA and the LFL.”
Although Tatyhana doesn’t get to play against men in the WFA, she says she does get to go against them during flag.
“It’s really fun actually because most men think they are unstoppable and naturally a better athlete than most women until they come across someone like me who has the athleticism equivalent to a man in most cases. I’m just as fast, just as strong, just as talented and just as knowledgeable about the game as them. I love showing them up and will do it any chance I get to prove them wrong.”
As for future goals, Tatyhana plans on making First Team All-American for a third year in a row, breaking her current franchise record of having rushed over 1,000+ yards in a single season to 1,500 yards, increasing her average yard per carry, leading the nation in rushing, and carrying The Dark Angels to playoffs and a national title.
The upcoming season for the WFA will begin next year in January. However, the Dark Angels are having try-outs once a month starting in August for the new season.
“The Detroit Dark Angels is a great team to play for. We have a great coaching staff and all the right tools are in place for it to become a bigger and better organization. Our home field is Southfield Lathrup and we always play typically on Saturday evenings around 7 p.m.”
If you’re interested in trying out or catching a game, just search “Detroit Dark Angels” on any social media platform to find out more information or you can personally reach out to Tatyhana via Instagram @imjust_blaise.