Lisa Klaverkamp remembers the day she agreed to play tackle football. She was a 40-year-old housewife taking her 16-year-old daughter to sign up for the Manitoba Fearless when Fearless player and founder Tannis Wilson said, “Why don’t you play?”
“I looked at her and laughed and said, I’m too old,” Klaverkamp said with a smile. “She said, ‘No you aren’t,’ and well, you know Tannis. She’s pretty persuasive. She talked me into it. And here we are.”
“Here we are,” is a very interesting place. Not only is Lisa Klaverkamp a member of the Manitoba Fearless and one of the most feared linebackers in Women’s Canadian Football League, but she’s now a member of Canada’s National Women’s Tackle Football Team and is getting set to head over to Finland in late June to represent the country at the World Championship.
“I really thought I’d be too small,” said Klaverkamp, now 46 and a first-time member of the national team who barely weighs 130 pounds. “But I was fast and I like to hit. For my first two years I was a runningback and then I moved to linebacker.”
“She can really tackle,” said her friend and teammate Pauline Olynik, who also went to canada’s tryout camp in Moose Jaw and made the team as a defensive back. “She’s tough. She’s not very big but she can hit. If you’ve seen us play you know how good she is.”
Klaverkamp was a good athlete in high school. She played basketball and volleyball at Vincent Massey in Brandon, but after she got married she did as most women do and raised her family. Her son Nick played for the St. Vital Mustangs and her daughter played with her on the Fearless for the first couple of years. However, mom might be the best football player of the bunch.
“It was fun playing with my daughter for a year,” she said. “But I just enjoyed it. I enjoyed the friendships and the competition. I’d been pretty competitive when I was younger and it was fun.”
Back in 2010, she chose not to try out for the first National Team that finished second in Sweden. This time, however, she had already earned a reputation as a pretty solid player before she went to the tryout camp.
“The coach of the team is the coach with the Saskatoon Valkyries and he knew me and knew what I could do,” she said. “I don’t think I did anything special at the camp. I just played and the coach knew what he could expect from me.”
During the day, Klaverkamp is an accountant at Winnipeg Hyundai. At night — at least four nights a week — she works hard in the gym to prepare for another season.
“I work out four nights a week in the gym with Char (Mash-Hadlow) and Amy (Mohr),” Lisa said. “We’ve been friends a long time and played together on the Fearless before they started the Wolfpack. They’re both a big part of the reason why I made the team.”
Olynik and Mohr will join Klaverkamp on the National Team along with WR Roxanna Cox, OL Christine O’Donnell and DL Alexa Matwyczuk. As well, WR Mash-Hadlow, WR Jill Fast and DB Patti Eko-Davis were named to the reserve team and could still make the team if a player is injured or if someone can’t make because of work or family commitments.
And there is a chance someone could be injured. The World Championship of American Football will be held after the 2013 Women’s Canadian Football League Season.
“It’s perfect because we’ll be in good shape and ready to play,” Klaverkamp said, during an interview for The Huddle TV Show. “It’s pretty exciting. Everybody has been really happy for me although my boss wondered what he’ll do for three weeks when I’m gone. But he was still happy for me.”
Klaverkamp still has one concern about being a 130-pound, 46-year-old linebacker playing in one of the best female football leagues in the world.
“I still have to continue to explain to people that it’s tackle football,” she said. “And I also have to explain to people that it’s not that Lingerie League. It’s real tackle football with full pads on the big field. Some people still don’t get it.”
Maybe they’ll start to understand if she returns from Finland with a gold medal.