As the Atlanta Steam enjoyed their second consecutive trip to the Legends Football League’s Eastern Conference championship game in 2015, a key contributor to their remarkable run this past season was offensive lineman Dina Wojowski. One of the most underrated competitors in league play, her journey to the Steam was one that enabled her to continue her solid LFL career.
Raised in the football-mad market of Pittsburgh, the love of the game is definitely in Wojowski’s blood. The season prior, Wojowski had been part of the Jacksonville Breeze, one of the Steam’s biggest rivals. Along with Adrian Purnell and Angie Williams, they composed one of the most fearsome offensive line units in LFL play, not afraid to engage in smash mouth football.
Coincidentally, it was the Breeze who were the Steam’s opponents in the 2014 edition of the Eastern Conference championship. Despite the Steam prevailing in the match, it was hotly contested, ending on a highly emotional note with players pushing and shoving, testament to the intensity and dedication of the players on both sides.
Although no one could have expected at the time that it would be the final game in Breeze franchise history, the club would cease operations for the 2015 campaign. The result was a highly touted free agent crop, which included Wojowski.
Signing with the Steam as a free agent, it was understandable that the initial decision was a visceral one for Wojowski. Prior to making the decision, former Breeze teammates (and All-Fantasy selections) Adrian Purnell and Lauran Ziegler, a 2015 candidate for the LFL Hall of Fame, had already committed to playing for the Steam. In reflecting on the decision, communication proved to be a key factor for Wojowski. An initial phone call with Steam head coach Dane Robinson eased any possible concerns, paving the way for an exciting season to come,
“The “courting” process to get the Floridian players, including myself, was an interesting one, considering how our Eastern conference championship game ended. It took Adrian and Zig at least two weeks to convince me to take the calls from Coach Dane, but once I was able to talk to him and air my concerns along with my excitement to still continue to play, it all fell into place.
The first meeting of the new combined team was a little intense, but as players you have to learn to view the game as a job, you do not have to love everyone you work with, but you have to respect them and honor their commitment and skill.”
With Breeze members Purnell and Ziegler now “Steammates”, they would make the transition much more enjoyable. Taking into account that the three had accumulated over five years of playing experience, their presence would also provide strong leadership, setting a positive example for younger players. Although Wojowski is very humble about her role as a leader, there is no question that her maturity and acumen helped propel her into a mentor,
“Even in my professional role, I do not normally consider myself a leader, but I realized that with the age and experience come a wisdom that can be beneficial. I prefer to look at myself more as a spirit guide, than a leader.”
Also joined by fellow Breeze alum Ciara McMillan, their presence on the Steam was an extension of the Breeze’s proud legacy in Legends Football League play. Providing a very admirable collaborative effort, all four were not only accepted with open arms, they would be crucial in helping the Steam remain among the league’s elite franchises. In addition, McMillian’s friendship would make the grind of travel much more enjoyable,
“I love them more than I can express. Our bond is a microcosm of the LFL sisterhood. Three different ages, backgrounds and personalities, that meshed together in a perfect synchronism brought together by a passion for the sport. Ciara McMillan added into the old mix of my sisters from Florida and made the travel and the time we spent together at airports and in the car far more fun than I could have imagined.”
Statistically, Ziegler, Purnell, Wojowski and McMillan would rank third through sixth in tackles on the Steam. Defensively, Wojowski would record 15.5 total tackles, including 11 solo efforts, four for loss and complemented by a pair of fumble recoveries. Ziegler would finish the season as the LFL receiving champion while Purnell ranked second on the Steam in receptions.
Despite being one of the older players on the team, Wojowski’s joie de vivre and engaging smile established her as a popular teammate. Appearing in all of the Steam’s games in 2015, Wojowski competed on both ends of the ball, at the center position, along with defensive end.
As an anchor on the offensive line, the experience of Wojowski (who wore number 17) proved to be a key element in ensuring that quarterback Dakota Hughes, the 2014 LFL Rookie of the Year, did not endure a sophomore slump. Acting like a big sister, she would instill the confidence in Hughes to elevate her game to another level, culminating in the Offensive Player of the Year Award.
It was part of a trio of awards bestowed upon the Steam, as Ziegler earned the prestigious Mortaza Award while Wojowski was the recipient of the inaugural In the Trenches Player of the Year Award. Adding to the jubilation of such an award for Wojowski was the excitement of the fan support that the Steam experienced.
The atmosphere at the Gwinnett Center, composed of multiple generations of fans, only enriched the feeling of family that exists among the Steam’s roster. Along with Purnell and Ziegler, Wojowski is among eight veterans that have committed to returning to the Steam next season, ensuring that another competitive season is likely in the cards,
“The fan support is amazing! I have played in front of a few crowds in my years of football, but the constant attendance of 3000+ fans to games was awesome. The Steam faithful are knowledgeable, passionate and caring. I commend and appreciate their continued support!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”