With the arrival of the Pittsburgh Rebellion as one of two expansion teams, the other being the Denver Dream, for the 2017 Legends Football League (LFL) season, it presented a cherished opportunity for Remy Olinzock to realize a pair of accomplishments. Having once graced the gridiron with the Pittsburgh Passion of the Independent Women’s Football League, the chance to don the Rebellion’s colors in 2017 adds to a growing Iron City female football legacy.
Prior to suiting up for the Rebellion, Olinzock had competed with the now defunct Cleveland Crush. Getting the chance to compete in her home state of Pennsylvania with the Rebellion also allows her to see her LFL career come full circle.
In spite of measuring only 52, Olinzock has the heart of a lion. Although she had hoped for a spot with the New England Liberty in 2016, the chance to compete in her home state brings with it a treasured milestone. Her first experience with football in the Keystone State was in girls flag football, eventually rising to prestige of team captain.
Later progressing to the Harrisburg Young Professionals, this gridiron goddess would even play an exhibition game in Australia with several other American competitors. Competing as both an outside linebacker and a tailback with the IWFL’s Pittsburgh Passion in 2015, her blazing speed sees her take on two new positions in the newest chapter of her gridiron odyssey with the Rebellion; cornerback and running back.
While Sonia Osselborn has carried most of the load at the running back position, Olinzock’s experience allows the Rebellion to explore other dimensions on their running game, making her an ideal substitution. Factoring in the fact that Olinzock captured an IWFL league championship with the Passion, her work ethic may be the most important aspect of her game, supplying an inspiring encouragement for the determined rookies,
Leading by example is very crucial. Every girl on this team is completely capable of playing on a championship team when they have the proper work ethic. I knew coming in it would take a little more patience since we’re on a learning curve but it’s possible when you have girls with the right mindset.
I did not learn how to play overnight and I certainly didn’t expect any of the new girls to, but they pick up things fast and really focus on bettering themselves because they know what value it brings to the team.
Wearing the number five that she also wore in Cleveland, Olinzock has already provided some key performances this season. The inaugural game against Omaha resulted in a forced fumble that was recovered by her team. Against Atlanta, she had four tackles, including one for a loss of two yards. Also boasting a blocked point after attempt, Olinzock has certainly shined on defense for the first-year club.
Bringing her veteran presence to the Rebellion, it allows Olinzock an opportunity for her new team to not endure the typical expansion woes that can be burdening. Joining her in this new chapter for Pittsburgh football includes a couple of other experienced competitors. Among them is Morgan Spencer, a former starting quarterback with the now defunct Baltimore Charm.
Reprising that role once again in Pittsburgh, Spencer is joined by a couple of other faces familiar to hardcore LFL fans. Misty Gonzales, who competed in the New England Libertys inaugural season in 2016 made the jump to the Rebellion this season, while Tracey Willmer, who competed with the Tampa Breeze in the inaugural LFL season back in 2009, is one of the Rebellions defensive stalwarts.
Undoubtedly, Olinzock’s sensational body of work with both the Crush and the Passion allows her to take a significant leadership role with her new team. Enjoying the opportunity to mentor some of the younger players, sharing her enthusiasm for the game, her presence has provided the teams rookies with the luxury of learning what to expect in terms of competitiveness.
I try to set a good example for the new girls and brace them for what to expect coming into this league. This is an aggressive sport, it is fun but it takes a lot of preparation and discipline. I feel like you need to be prepared by the ones who’ve played before because it really is a different breed of football.
It has been a great experience sharing the field with all of the vets, the ones I used to play against as well as the newly established ones. The different backgrounds and different ways we were previously coached put together definitely sets the tone for the oncoming rookies.
Joined by Jessica Johnson and Jolie Efezhae, they constitute a respectable defensive backfield, allowing for the chance to forward a solid attack against the pass. Currently, she ranks fifth on the team in total tackles, along with Willmer, who both provide an important veteran presence on defense. Despite the first two games resulting in the Rebellion unable to place a W in the win column, Olinzock is proud of the player’s efforts,
Absolutely. I believe this team gets stronger mentally and physically with every game, every play, every rep. We work so hard to close in on our gaps and the girls are so determined to prove they are capable of competing with these teams. They give it their all and never give up and we’re really proud of each individual’s effort.
After their inaugural game, a road affair with the Omaha Heart, which resulted in a hard-fought 34-6 loss, anticipation built for the home opener at Highmark Stadium as Pittsburgh definitely represents one of Americas finest football cities. Hosting the always dangerous Dakota Hughes and her Atlanta Steam, the home opener would prove to consist of two unique facets.
Taking into account that the vast majority of LFL games have taken place indoors, the Rebellion competing outdoors represented a distinct opening night experience, especially with its status as an expansion team. In seasons past, Chicago, Los Angeles and the original incarnation of the Denver Dream had played a handful of games outdoors.
Before the second half expired, the elements would prove to be as influential as the action taking place on the field. The darkened skies over the Allegheny resulted in an outpouring of rain. While the inclement weather added an aura of intrigue to the display of competitive vigor on the gridiron, it was one that also truly tested the mettle of the players. For rookies on both rosters, whose clear plastic facemasks were covered in raindrop and fog from their breath, it represented a Welcome to the LFL kind of moment.
Although the rain brought with it a drop in the thermometers mercury, chills and goosebumps adorning the chiseled but fatigued physiques, Olinzock reflects that such factors may not have been as dismal as some fans may have perceived. As the thrill of the game supplies an obligatory adrenaline rush, it more than compensated for any change in temperature, the factor of intensity remaining high.
Of course, we had to adapt to the situation and play smart when the weather factored in. It was cold, but when you have that much adrenaline pumping it doesn’t really affect you.
Heading into the Rebellions final home game for the 2017 season, a June 10 rematch with the Omaha Heart, it would be a strong point of pride for Olinzock if the team could attain its first win in franchise history, especially on home field at Highmark Stadium.
Motivation is definitely high for that first win although there will be an accompanying sense of history, as the Rebellion shall spearhead an unprecedented variation of the uniforms. Players traditionally wear shorts in the LFL, therefore, the fact that players shall be suited in pants signifies the first game in league history to see players garbed in this fashion.
Bringing a skilled determination to the field and a positive attitude off of it, complemented by an unmistakable smile, Olinzock represents the potential for the wondrous women of Rebellion football to be gridiron heroes. Regardless of the final outcome for this inaugural season, players such as Olinzock have made a positive impression on their fan base, poised to be a hallmark for the inaugural season. The feeling of family and togetherness has instantly bonded these ambitious competitors, one that has definitely provided Olinzock with the factor that she has enjoyed most about being part of such a jubilant journey with the Rebellion,
Team camaraderie. Attitude is everything and everyone’s been a good sport and really positive. A lot of girls have had to adapt to new positions and they’re willing to step up rather than being complacent with what they started out with. We pick each other up and keep each other motivated because we’ve seen what we can accomplish when we work together.
All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated