Print Edition: September 26, 2012
Jeanette Jackson is a tight-end guard on the BC Angels – Abbotsford’s illustrious lingerie football team. She chatted with us about her life on and off the field.
Tell me about your life – growing up, and what it’s like now.
I moved here from Ontario when I was 12 with my parents. We moved to Maple Ridge, and I did a couple years at Garibaldi and then after I moved to Terry Fox in Port Coquitlam. I graduated early and started working in tons of different things. When I was 19, I moved to Europe to be a nanny. When I came back, I started my business degree at Simon Fraser University. When I finished my degree, I decided to start a company – it’s a local tech company. After six years of doing that, I recently purchased another one—Brag Company—what we do is luxury bra bags and panty packs for travel. We just finished … one called Hope, and all the proceeds go to breast cancer research, so I’m really excited about that.
I’m also a single mom. I have a five-year-old daughter, named Ciara. She’ll come out to practices and help out. She’s right involved – she loves it! The other day, she said “Mom, I’m going to put my cleats on so I can help out at practice”… she plays soccer, tennis, gymnastics … lots.
Has your involvement in the team helped with that at all? You must meet plenty of guys that would be interested![Laughs] It’s not really the right crowd.
Fair enough. So how did you hear about try outs?
For the last year, I’ve been playing flag football in the A division. There was talk of an LFL [Lingerie Football League] team coming to Vancouver, and I kind of got along with all the teams – so certain girls from each team, you could see which ones would be interested in trying out. We talked about it, and a girlfriend of mine sent me a link last fall just saying hey it’s coming, watch out for tryouts in May.
What made you decide to try out?
Kind of for me, it’ll be my last opportunity to play in a competitive level in this type of sport … as opposed to running, running marathons. Every two years, I pick a new sport and go hard at it. Two years ago was tennis, and I actually ended up competing at the Stanley Park open.
What were the tryouts like? How many people were there – did you feel intimidated at all?
I think for the first tryout there were 75-100 people there. The second was about the same. I didn’t feel intimidated – for me, I’m one of the older players, and so you’re comparing yourself to these young pups who have never had a kid … it’s a different lifestyle.
Speaking of lifestyle – what’s your training schedule like?
We train with the team three days a week. I train at least another three days a week at the gym or trail running or whatever it is. I also coach my daughter’s soccer team, and so I really take that time to run around as much as possible and keep my cardio up.
Is there any sort of team mandate that dictates how much physical training you’re doing outside of team practices?
There isn’t, no – but you’ll know if you’re not doing that stuff out of practice. It will really show, because you won’t be able to keep up with the rest of the team during drills and stuff.
Are there any requirements on the players outside of fitness? I’m thinking along the lines of beauty – are you required to have your hair done and makeup on at all times?
I think once people get to the field, in the audience, they’ll see that it’s solid football. But there’s a lot of prep work – there’s photos and video clips and things like that, so we want to represent the team and both aspects of brawn and beauty. So we all work together to come in early and do hair and makeup and all that stuff. They say to come done up.
Has anyone ever been told they weren’t “done up” enough – sent back to the locker room to fix their hair or add more makeup?
No, nothing like that. We take a lot of pride in ourselves, and we get a lot of flexibility. But with the league being so new here, it may become a priority in the future.
Your team’s record currently sits at 1-1. How do you feel going into this week’s (September 29) game?
I would say that we definitely have a renewed focus, and we are revisiting what made us successful in the first game. Focusing on that one play at a time, and really smart playing. We’re a smart football team, so if we focus on that and do our job as a team we should be successful.
Do you find your team—as it’s women—is more cerebral than a men’s team?
Initially what I’ve seen is that depending on your role on the team, it’s some people’s job not to think – just to do their task. Other positions, there’s more thought that has to go into it. If you’re the mid linebacker, you gotta watch where that centre is going, or where their running back’s going. You gotta be more thought-oriented. Compared to men … I can see a shift over the last two games, because we are becoming more familiar with the brain behind the game. Men have been playing since they’ve been five, whereas we have six months to become NFL players. It’s mental. And physically, to be up to speed on that level quickly – especially with the U.S. girls on all the teams, they’ve been playing for a couple years longer than us.
Any response to the press that surrounds you guys? Lots of it is negative, but there’s lots of focus on objectifying you as well. What are your thoughts on that?
I get a kick out of it. Instead of talking, go out and buy a $12 ticket. Show up at the game. It is one of the best nights of your life. If people came and were not sure, they are now – we expect to see them and many more people back. It’s a great show and it’s amazing athleticism. We’re there to play hard.
How close is your team outside of your games and practices?
We have a lot of respect for each other. We all play a different role on the team – in addition to promo events, we have nights where we watch footage and get ready together and talk about things. If somebody needs to be picked up, we do that – we don’t rely on friends and family (though of course they help out as well). We take care of each other.
Well, it’s a grass roots league in Canada. Right now, there is some income to the team based on sales, but really it just covers basic expenses. We don’t get paid. We invest a lot of time and resources to make sure we’re representing as best we can, so eventually we’ll see compensation.
If ticket sales increase, will you see more compensation? Is that how your contracts work?
It’s possible. If we sell more tickets, we may see something over and above our basic expenses … it’s more next year, as the league continues to build in the U.S. They want to build it into an NFL-type league, so to get that type of commitment you’ll need to [be compensated].
Tell me some of your favourite game-time moments – as a team, and as a player individually.
The first game … I played really safe, but … I got a really good kickoff return, and the girl that came to tackle me got a bit of a concussion. That was an awakening – “we’re actually playing tackle football here!” In the second game, I felt a little bit more comfortable and willing to take some risks. I was able to take a breath and see the field better – it made me stronger in that position.
You mentioned feeling that your team represents a mix of brawn and beauty. Do you think the lingerie helps that?
I don’t really look at the outfits as lingerie. If you really wanted that, you could almost be skimpier and more flattering. They’re one-size fits all booty shorts that cover more than a volleyball player does. Then you have all the padding and socks and stuff … the top athletes should be playing the sport … when you are active and fit, you look good because you feel good. As long as it comes across [that’s what matters]. None of us are overdone. There’s a bit of makeup and stuff, but we’re all pretty natural. Natural athletic beauties, I think. The athleticism and beauty enhance each other.
Looking at the league website, it looks like some of the girls across the league have breast implants. Do you? Have you heard any negative experiences from girls who play with them?
Well, I personally don’t have any. My biggest thing is, “do I put cutlets in?” – I just leave it. It’s safter that way. We put on nipple covers, and away we go. None of the girls have brought it up in terms of how they feel or the risks involved there – I haven’t heard any stories across the league, which is good because it’s such an investment.
Any last comments you’d like to get out?
I would say for anyone who’s skeptical, take a chance and come out to our game. See what we’re all about and support another local amateur sport. We’d like to see it go to the next level. All of us are on Facebook, and we’re here to answer any questions. We come from all walks of life, bartenders and business owners, wives and single moms … all of us are here to work hard and play hard. You’d be surprised at how unique we are. Come watch – it’s the best $12 you’ll ever spend.
Tickets for the September 29 game between the Abbotsford Angels and the Toronto Triumph range between $12-78 ($10 for students with I.D.) and can be purchased on the LFL website or by calling 1-866-977-AESC (2372).
This interview has been edited for length.