After winning two national championships last season, Florida A&M University’s Simply Marvelous female flag football team will jump off their season this Saturday in the Swamp Bowl.
“It’s more challenging this year we have to uphold the title,” said April Roberts, 20, a junior respiratory therapist student from Tampa.
Last year, the team won national championships in New Orleans and Dallas.
“You never want your team complacent,” said Marvin Green, head coach of Simply Marvelous.
Carmen Jones, a transfer student from the University of South Florida said she saw how good the team was when she played against Simply Marvelous last year.
“We played them in Pensacola. I saw how good they were,” Jones said. “The aggressiveness they showed, I like that and their camaraderie. They were talented, I had to dig a little deeper.”
Simply Marvelous practices four times a week for about two hours.
“It’s serious, like a new born baby born into the world, its serious,” said Roberts, a team captain.
Jones said Green’s coaching has helped her transition into the team scheme.
“Coach prepares us,” Jones said. “He wants us to be mentally prepared not just physically.”
Green doesn’t stop there with preparation he has the ladies watch tapes of old games.
“They take that serious, to put that shirt on, their national champs, so they got a swagger about themselves,” Green said.
Six players from last year’s championship team are back for this season. Even with only six returning, Green is still confident.
“This is the most talented team in the nation,” Green said.
RoNesha Reid, a first year member of the team said several girls showed up to tryout for the team.
“Like 40 girls came out to the first meeting” said Reid, 19, a freshman Criminal Justice student, from Tampa.
Jones said that tryouts helped the team grow closer.
“The more we practice the tighter we become, the bond became real strong,” Jones said.
Team captain Ashley Livingston said she tries her best to make sure the team has a good bond. “We all joke around,” said Livingston, 20, a junior physical therapy student from Fort Lauderdale. “We play as a team and we trust each other.”
Reid said she was pleased with how she was brought in.
“It’s a family environment,” Reid said. We just came right on in, I already feel like I’m a sister already.”
For Green, watching the team come together is a positive part of the job.
“To see the girls bond, they all care for each other. It’s like their own sorority,” Green said. “I became a big brother.”
Due to the fact that the ladies have nowhere to practice on campus, they are forced to practice at the “Sportsplex”, the new intramural recreation field at Florida State University.
“We were practicing at the men’s baseball field then the light box caught fire, then we were on the softball field but it wasn’t enough space,” Reid said.
The team is scheduled to play in six tournaments across the country. A few of the places where they will be playing at are, Wilmington, N.C., Bowling Green, Ky, Hattiesburg, Miss and Tampa Fla. for the national championship.
When the ladies travel to Gainesville Saturday for the “Swamp Bowl” last years accolades won’t matter.
“Friday when we leave town it’s a new team, new year, new titles,” Green said.
Roberts, shares Greens passion about this season.
“Were going to do what we do best go out and get are championships,” Roberts said. “I feel confident that were going to take this new team all the way.”