They play football, and they wear burgundy and gold. But that’s where the similarities between the D.C. Divas of the Women’s Football Alliance and the Washington Commanders end: As wide receiver Lois Cook puts it, “We win.” The Divas have won three national championships since their founding in 2000 and, despite a disappointing 2021, have an overwhelmingly winning record. (They’ve also sent former players to the NFL, where Callie Brownson is a key coach for the Cleveland Browns and Desiree Abrams is an official.)
Full-contact professional women’s football is not for the uncommitted. Not only are players unpaid, but they have to buy their own equipment and pay for training in addition to traveling as far north as Boston and as far south as Tampa for games. “Honestly, you don’t see it as a burden,” Cook says. “We play for the love of the game.” This year, the team plays its home games at the St. James complex in Springfield and Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax, and a permanent home is still a ways off. The pandemic shut down the 2020 season, and 2021 was shortened to only four games, of which they lost three due to injuries. A rare losing season “tests your character,” Cook says. “But we are still the Divas.”
This article appears in the June 2022 issue of Washingtonian.