Covering the Land of Lincoln

Rockford natives set to lead X League’s Chicago Blitz in lone regular season home game at BMO Harris Bank Center

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – “It’s very very fast, it’s hard-hitting, and we got strong women,” Stephanie Raymond-Young said.

The X League, which is an eight-team women’s arena football league, will be making its debut at the BMO Harris Bank Center Saturday. The Chicago Blitz will host the Seattle Thunder in the Blitz’s only home game in the regular season.

Quarterback Stephanie Raymond-Young, a Lutheran alum, and safety Emma Vanderheyden, a Guilford graduate, are excited for the team’s opener in their hometown.

“My family saw it before I did, I think the league made an announcement on the Facebook page and my aunt called me and she’s like, ‘You’re playing in Rockford!’ and I was like, ‘wait, what, when did they decide that,’” Vanderheyden said, so all of my family was super excited to see that we’re right here where they watched me my whole life playing.”

“Just to be in my hometown and obviously I have a lot of ties to Rockford but I really do hope that Rockford and the BMO (Harris Bank) Center is our home arena for years to come,” Raymond-Young said.

Both athletes are looking forward to inspiring future players in women’s football.

“It’s a long time coming, I mean just in general anywhere, honestly we’ve been playing this sport for decades but we’re finally starting to get the recognition as athletes,” Vanderheyden said, ”So it’s really special to see and connect with the younger generation so I’ve been playing some form of football for over 10 years and we’re finally in the spotlight, like, 10 years and there were women that played for 10 years before me and who I used to play with. ”

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